Pennridge surges past Academy Park

Academy Park quarterback Brian Ingram is yanked off his feet by Pennridge defender Ryan Sterling in the second quarter. BRADLEY C. BOWER / For The Inquirer
Academy Park quarterback Brian Ingram is yanked off his feet by Pennridge defender Ryan Sterling in the second quarter. BRADLEY C. BOWER / For The Inquirer
Posted: September 22, 2013

With a little less than 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter of a football game between Pennridge and host Academy Park, the unnerving sounds of fire whistles began blaring across the Sharon Hill community.

Academy Park fans recognized the shrieking immediately: It was the alarm for the town's 9 p.m. curfew, which goes off regularly at the Knights' home games on Friday nights. For Academy Park players, however, the alarm should have marked a sign of what was coming.

Because of an altogether disastrous second-half performance, Academy Park, ranked 14th in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, suffered its first defeat of the season, a 28-13 nonleague loss to No. 13 Pennridge.

Though the matchup was mostly an impressive display of two of the area's better offenses, it turned ugly for Academy Park in the third quarter, when the Knights turned the ball over twice and allowed three touchdowns.

In the game's turning point, Pennridge senior Ryan Sterling scored two touchdowns (one offensive, one defensive) in a nine-second span late in the third quarter.

He rushed for a 5-yard touchdown to cap a six-play, 90-yard drive that gave the Rams a 14-6 lead. On the first play of the ensuing Knights drive, Sterling intercepted a screen pass and ran 5 yards for another touchdown.

The community curfew alarm sounded dramatically between his scores.

"Those were two great plays," Pennridge coach Jeff Hollenbach said. "Ryan's a heady player and a really smart person. That helps a lot out here."

For Sterling, the interception return was the first defensive touchdown of his career. He's playing both sides of the ball, at fullback and linebacker, for the first time in his high school career after taking last season off to run cross-country.

"I came back because I love Coach Hollenbach and all the coaches and all these players," Sterling said.

Sterling's touchdowns were a rare highlight from a Pennridge running back not named Mike Class.

Class, a senior, has more than 4,400 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns in his Pennridge career. He became the Rams' all-time leading rusher this season with his 100-yard performance against Emmaus in Week 1.

Class was limited to 63 yards on six carries in the first half Friday night, but the Knights couldn't stop him in the second half. He rushed 14 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns after intermission.

"I think conditioning had a lot to do with it," Hollenbach said. "They were getting pretty tired."

Knights senior quarterback Brian Ingram rushed for 218 yards and two touchdowns in the loss, but threw three interceptions in the second half. Academy Park senior Jerry Lanier rushed for 62 yards in the first half, but did not play in the second half.

Pennridge 0 0 21 7 – 28

Academy Park 0 6 0 7 – 13

AP: Brian Ingram 7 run (pass failed)

P: Mike Class 27 run (Peter Psomiadis kick)

P: Ryan Sterling 5 run (Psomiadis kick)

P: Sterling interception return (Psomiadis kick)

AP: Ingram 40 run (Eric Doe kick)

P: Class 48 run (Psomiadis kick)

Contact Joey Cranney at Follow on Twitter @joey_cranney.

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