Pen Argyl shuts out Southern Lehigh
Written by: Josh Funk on Sunday, October 2nd, 2011
PEN ARGYL, Pa. – As Southern Lehigh head coach John Toman watched a reporter scribbling notes from his postgame comments, the Spartans’ head man couldn’t help but noting, “I don’t know how you can read that.”
It’s also hard to get a good read on Pen Argyl’s physical, unrelenting defense, which made life tough for the defending District 11 AAA runners-up all game long.
Southern Lehigh (2-3) turned the ball over on downs twice inside the Pen Argyl 40-yard line and the Green Knights (5-0) forced the Spartans into a trio of interceptions in a 35-0 shutout victory Saturday afternoon from Alumni Stadium in Pen Argyl.
The victory sets up a major Colonial League showdown when unbeaten Northern Lehigh invades Pen Argyl next weekend to take on the Green Knights. For Southern Lehigh, the next few weeks will be a little bit different.
“We just went through the gauntlet of our league,” Toman said. “We feel we have a favorable schedule in the second half of the season. Our goal is to go 7-3 and make the playoffs. 7-3 is a respectable record.”
Pen Argyl head coach Paul Reduzzi thought his team’s performance was more than respectable.
“That was the best game we’ve played all year,” Reduzzi said. “This is the right time of year for us to be playing like that.”
The sledding proved tough for the visiting Spartans right from the onset. Despite stringing together a pair of first downs and advancing to the Knights’ 37-yard line, quarterback Ty Edmond was tackled for no gain on 4th-and-3 on Southern’s initial offensive series. Then, after recovering a Knight fumble at its own 33, the Spartans advanced to the Pen Argyl 10 on an Edmond 14-yard pass to Jared Gerhard and a Jake Melusky 18-yard run. But once again, PA bent but didn’t break. Edmond’s pass on 4th-and-4 with 14 seconds left in the half fell innocently to the Alumni Stadium grass.
“We had to captialize when we had the chances, and we didn’t do it,” Toman said. “They (Pen Argyl) are a very opportunistic football team.”
Senior back Dylan Evans and first-year starting quarterback Conor Gum helped Pen Argyl’s offense fire in midseason form. It was Gum’s deft fake of an option toss on what wound up being a 39-yard keeper on a midline option play, and three plays later, Evans crashed into the end zone from five yards out for a 7-0 Knights’ lead in the waning moments of the first quarter. Evans pushed the advantage to 14-0 with a 12-yard run with 6:08 in the half, running for 61 yards in the first 24 minutes.
After the Spartans’ marching band featured the Blue Brothers in its halftime show, Gum left SL feeling particularly blue when he found Kyle Muller on a 38-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-0, Knights. Evans’ third touchdown run, a two-yard burst, pushed the lead to 28-0, and Gum capped the scoring with a 43-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Young.
With the mercy rule invoked due to a 35-point second half lead, both teams pulled their starters and finished the final 7:51 of the game under a running clock and also some light rain.
“Our senior leaders were focused today,” Reduzzi said.
Evans ran for a game-high 116 yards on 21 carries, and Gum did it both with his legs and through the air, connecting on 4-of-7 passes for 93 yards and running for another 66 yards on 10 carries. Gum has connected on 18 passes this season, and eight of those have gone for touchdowns. Reserve Ryan Lobb added five carries for 12 yards for Pen Argyl.
Southern Lehigh finished with 157 total yards of offense (77 rushing, 80 passing) and only nine first downs this day. Melusky ran for a team-best 49 yards on seven carries and Gerhard ran for 12 yards on four carries. Dylan Schmidt also ran for 12 yards, reaching that mark on five carries. Edmond connected on 13-of-22 passes for 80 yards but was intercepted twice.