Palisades stuffs Pine Grove; New Hope tripped by West Catholic
They say offense wins games, but defense wins championships.
Palisades had just enough scoring to get in position to win on Friday night. The Pirates defense, though, did the rest, and in impressive fashion, as they shut down top-seeded Pine Grove’s offense in a 10-6 road stunner in the semifinal round of the District 11 Class AA playoffs.
“We dominated the game even though the score didn’t necessarily reflect [it],” Pirates head coach Kevin Ronalds said.
Pine Grove had been undefeated coming into the contest and had a 2,000-yard rusher in Ryan Heim. He, however, was injured very early in the game, and even when he did return, was held to negative yardage. Palisades, which had yielded 40 points in a loss to Saucon Valley the week before, took advantage of his absence. The Pirates held the Tri-Valley League champions to around 200 yards of total offense and a single touchdown pass by quarterback Steve Zimmerman to Mark Weinus.
Helping the cause were J.D. Donnelly, who had eight tackles and a fumble recovery; Barry Weaver, who had two tackles (10 total) for loss, including a sack; J.T. Lynch, with 11 tackles; and Devin Ramsden, with an interception, pass defended and four tackles. The Pirates forced two turnovers while controlling the line of scrimmage and limiting Pine Grove to only four first downs.
The offense countered with a 133-yard night by running back Christian Gretzinger. Quarterback Nick Sanders scored Palisades’ lone touchdown on a one-yard keeper in the second quarter, while Sam O’Brien hit a 28-yard field goal to add to the Pirates’ edge.
Any remaining doubts were put to rest when Zimmerman was sacked on fourth down with less than a minute to go.
“We wanted to be able to run the ball on offense. We wanted to stop the run on defense, and we wanted to win the turnover battle,” Ronalds said. “We won all three of those.”
The win moved the Pirates, who were 7-3 in the Colonial League South Division this season, to 8-3 overall. They will now face second-seeded Catasauqua in the title game Friday night. Palisades fell to Catasauqua, 45-7, in a regular season meeting on Sept. 13, but the Pirates were within one score at halftime before being put away.
“They’re a great football team,” Ronalds said. “We’ll have to play well to win.”
New Hope-Solebury played tough against West Catholic, but ultimately, the Lions were unable to pull off a shocker of their own in the semifinals of the District 1/12 playoffs on Saturday. After trailing 12-7 at halftime, the Lions were unable to keep pace, as the Burrs put together a pair of scoring drives to pull away in a 26-7 victory at the South Philadelphia Super Site.
The Lions were fed a hefty dose of Greg White, who rushed for more than 150 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. West Catholic built a 12-0 advantage before New Hope-Solebury quarterback Connor Hayden scored on a one-yard run to keep his team close.
The Burrs, though, responded with a big third quarter, including White’s second score and another on a run by Calil Worthan, to seal the triumph. They will now take on Imhotep Charter in the championship game this weekend.
The Lions, meanwhile, dropped to 8-2 after winning the Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) championship this season. They had been on a four-game winning streak and were averaging 33 points per game in their last three victories before being eliminated. They aren’t completely finished, though, as the Lions will close out their campaign on Thanksgiving against rival South Hunterdon.
Pennridge can now look forward to its annual Turkey Day game, too. The Rams, who will face rival Quakertown on Thanksgiving morning, lost to nonleague Archbishop Ryan, 38-14, on Friday in a contest scheduled after Pennridge failed to qualify for the District One Class AAAA playoffs.
Copyright ©2013 Bucks County Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.