FAIRLESS HILLS >> It was one of those high school football games in which both teams were able to walk off the field feeling fairly upbeat about what transpired.
Academy Park, of course, was delighted it was able to avenge last year’s loss by beating Pennsbury, 28-21, in a season-opener on August 24.
As for a Pennsbury squad attempting to rebuild after massive graduation losses from last year’s 10-win team, it came away knowing it was very close to winning a game against a team that was much faster and more physically gifted.
“It was a lot like last year but in reverse,” agreed Academy Park coach Jason Voshevski, whose team has won 40 games in the last four years. “Both teams battled hard. We beat a good team that is well coached.”
Entering the game with all kinds of unknowns, Pennsbury caught a huge break in the second quarter when Academy Park’s talented quarterback Skylor Fillis appeared to score on a 10-yard run before he was separated from the ball near the goal line. When the ball then rolled out of the back of the end zone following a scramble, Pennsbury had escaped with a touchback.
This came after Academy Park had also dropped a pass at the Falcon goal line in the first quarter and Pennsbury had taken advantage of a fumble on the 30 yard line to open the scoring on a 1-yard plunge by Josh Boyda.
Following the touchback, Pennsbury built it lead to 14-0 with it second touchdown of the second quarter on a 7-yard run by shifty junior Ed Duala, who made a nice debut with 14 carries for 72 yards.
It was also at this point, however, when the game took a drastic turn.
First Academy Park roared down the field on just five plays and scored on a 12-yard run by Zion Bradley. Pennsbury then also made a tactical mistake by attempting to move the ball in the last minute of the first half instead of simply running out the clock.
This decision backfired when Pennsbury was forced to punt with 13 seconds left in the second quarter and got burned on a sensational 62-yard punt return for a touchdown by Malik Johnson.
The Academy Park momentum then continued in the third quarter as it opened up a 20-14 lead on a 41-yard run that had to be seen to be believed by Devon Covert, This run traversed virtually the entire width of the team and featured at least six missed tackles by a Pennsbury defense that was deficient in that area for much of the night.
Now trailing 21-14, Pennsbury did reply with another nice drive sparked by more running by Duala that led to a 2-yard TD run by Boyda.
When Pennsbury then forced a punt in the fourth quarter, it was in a position to finish off the Delaware County time. Instead a drive stalled at miidfield and Academy Park was able to march down the field for the winning touchdown with 2:29 remaining.
Fillis completed eight of 16 passes for 148 yards and ran for 108 more. Covert, meanwhile, had 81 yards on seven carries.
Making his first varsity start, Pennsbury junior quarterback Drew Hensor showed promise by completing nine of 16 passes for 99 yards. On the other hand, he was also intercepted three times.
Considering Academy Park is one of the fastest teams it will see all year, all in all there was enough here for Pennsbury to feel positive about where it’s headed.
Academy Park (1-0) 0 13 7 8 - 28
Pennsbury (0-1) 0 14 7 0 - 21
P-Boyda 1 run (Burgfechtel kick)
P-Dula 7 run (Burgfechtel kick)
AP-Bradley 12 run (Simpson kick)
AP-Johnson 62 punt return (kick blocked)
AP-Covert 41 run (Simpson kick)
P-Boyda 2 run (Burgfechtel kick)
AP-Brown 13 run (Fillis run)