North Penn tops Athens
ATHENS - North Penn coach Tom Dickinson loves it when a plan comes together, especially when it results in a 44-20 win over NTL rival Athens here Friday night at Alumni Stadium.
"We adjusted our offense in the offseason and that first half tonight is the way we anticipated it being run - with that speed, the no-huddles and the quarterback making his reads," said Dickinson.
"We clicked pretty good. It was good to see because it wasn't that way last week," he said.
"We made some adjustments. The kids worked hard this week and it paid off," said Dickinson.
Tailback Bruce Zaparzynski torched the Wildcats for 173 yards and three TDs on 18 carries and also caught three passes for 63 yards.
"Our job is to get him the ball and let him make some plays," said Dickinson. "He was able to do that tonight.
"That's the key behind the offense and if we continue to be able to do that, hopefully we'll be able to get a few more wins," added Dickinson.
Brock Burleigh completed 14 of 26 passes for 218 yards and two TDs, while running for 81 yards and a TD on six carries.
Brad Brubaker hauled in six catches for 77 yards and Devin Remley added two receptions for 30 yards and a TD.
Longtime Athens coach Jack Young could do nothing but give credit to North Penn.
"I have to tip my cap to (North Penn), they came ready to play. They had a tough loss last week and they didn't feel they played well.
"At the same time, we didn't improve this week," said Young. "In a lot of ways, we took steps backwards."
The Wildcats lost 17 players from last year to graduation and it showed Friday night, said Young.
"Our inexperience showed in a lot of ways tonight.
"We're a young and inexperienced team," said Young. "I don't care about the young, but the inexperienced part makes it tough. It's difficult to close the gap on inexperience. You can't close it in a week or two, it's a matter of building blocks."
The Panthers had a 74-yard pass play from Burleigh to Zaprazynski on the third play of the game nullified by a block in the back.
On North Penn's second possession, Burleigh connected with Remley on a quick pass to the flats. Remley split a pair of Athens defenders and raced down the sidelines for a 64-yard TD. Zaprazynski punched in the conversion to give the Panthers an 8-0 lead with 7:13 left in the first quarter.
After forcing the Wildcats into another three-play-and-punt possession on their second possession, Zaprazynski capped off a seven-play, 59-yard drive with a 15-yard scamper to paydirt to up the lead to 14-0 with 5:18 remaining in the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, junior Brandon Sturzenegger busted loose on a 41-yard run to the North Penn 7-yard-line to set up the WIldcats' lone first half score. Two plays later, QB Troy Stivason snuck in from two yards out for the score to cut the deficit to 14-6.
Any momentum Athens gained from the TD was short-lived, however, as Zaprazynski busted loose on a 72-yard TD run off the right side of the offensive line. Burleigh hooked up with Remley on the conversion pass to up the lead to 22-6 with 5:42 remaining in the half.
After forcing another three-play-and-punt possession, North Penn struck quickly as Zaprazynski broke several tackles en route to a 68-yard TD run. Burleigh's conversion pass to Cody Crum made it 30-6 with 3:22 left in the half.
"Our tackling was very poor," said Young. "Even when we were in the right places, our tackling was poor. We have to get better - that's the fundamentals of the game."
North Penn tacked on another first-half TD on a seven-yard pass from Burleigh to Levi Cristman with four seconds remaining in the half.
North Penn threw for 201 yards and ran for another 178 yards in the first half alone.
Young said the difference in the game was in the trenches.
"(North Penn) is big, but with the way we performed last week, we still thought we could manage the game. We didn't do a very good job in a lot of ways tonight."
Athens mounted a 10-play, 81-yard scoring drive to open the second half, capped by Tyler Forbes' 25-yard TD run, to cut the deficit to 36-12.
The Wildcats came up with a defensive stop and quickly drove the ball to the North Penn nine, but Sturzenegger was stripped by North Penn's Tyler Russell to end the threat.
North Penn's lone second-half TD came on a 58-yard QB keeper around right end by Burleigh. Zaprazynski tacked on the conversion to make it 44-12.
The Wildcats scored on a nine-play drive late in the game, capped by a seven-yard TD pass from back-up QB Aaron Barry to Nate Johnson. Kalen Keathley added the conversion run.
"I was proud of how we battled in the second half. That's all I asked them to do in the second half was fight," said Young.
Sturzenegger led Athens with 138 yards on 27 carries, while Forbes added 51 yards and a TD on seven carries.
Stivason completed 3 of 11 passes for 43 yards and was picked off three times. Barry completed 3 of 4 passes for 41 yards and a TD.
Athens, now 1-1, travels to Towanda (1-1) Friday, while North Penn (1-1) hosts Canton (0-2).