Ferens’ 6 TDs spark Penns Manor over pesky Bishop WalshWritten by: Josh Funk on Sunday, October 23rd, 2011
CLYMER, Pa. – Off to the side of the home bleachers at Penns Manor High School stood junior quarterback Danny Ferens, mud drying over his dark blue No. 12 jersey.
In a way, it’s only fitting Penns Manor is nicknamed the Comets, because Saturday night, Ferens was out of this world.
The Comets’ dual-threat quarterback accounted for 262 yards rushing and passing and scored five touchdowns and added a two-point conversion run as Penns Manor (7-1) fended off pesky Bishop Walsh (3-4), 42-29, Saturday evening.
The Comets’ opponent was a small, private school based in Cumberland, Md., who dressed only 22 players for the game and finishes up its eight-game schedule in two weeks time. But those 22 players wearing the maroon and white for the Spartans brought with them a unique challenge in that little else was known about them.
“We really didn’t know what to expect tonight,” said Penns Manor head coach Bill Packer. “We knew there was some talent over there (on that sideline).”
But at least Packer did know what he was getting from his junior quarterback, who surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for rushing yardage this season with his 20-carry, 231-yard night, giving him 1,142 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season. Ferens has also thrown for 493 yards and 11 more touchdowns, but the Comets needed to pass very little this night, as they amassed 377 rushing yards on 53 carries behind the blocking of Chris Bracken, John Stupic, Kasey Jewart, Steve Dumm and Luke Ruddock, along with tight end Corey Brown.
“(Running for 1,000 yards) means the world to me beacuse that was a big goal for me,” Ferens said. “But I couldn’t do that without my offensive line and coaches.”
Ferens showed his home run ability for the Spartans early and often this night, taking the Comets’ second play from scrimmage 52 yards to paydirt. He would add a 23-yard run to make it 14-0 with 5:12 left in the first quarter.
But Penns Manor didn’t see the ball much in the first half, and a big reason why was the 8:41 drive the Spartans used to score their first touchdown – a 7-yard pass from Greg Hendershot to Liam Rhodes – to slice the Penns Manor lead to just 14-7.
With only 1:53 left in the half, the Comets marched right down the field, thanks to 30 yards in penalties from the Spartans, to set up Ferens’ third touchdown run on a 1-yard plunge. The Comets only ran 17 first half plays (15 rushes, two passes), but had nine first downs and 148 yards on the ground.
Six plays into the second half, Ferens cut through the Bishop Walsh defense for his fourth touchdown – a 37-yard run – pushing the Comets lead to 26-7. The touchdown run was Ferens’ only rush of the possession, as he lulled the Spartans with handoffs between seniors Joey Vodopevic and Jake Paulina before busting the big scoring play.
The Spartans fired right back – Hendershot hit 6’5 junior Quincy Redmon for a 77-yard touchdown pass-and-catch, bringing Walsh to within 12, at 26-15.
Penns Manor, however, did a double-take for its fifth touchdown. Over a two-play sequence, Ferens hit Vodopevic for a 13-yard gain and then found Brown wide open a seam pattern from 11 yards out.
“We called the same play twice, and they (Bishop Walsh) didn’t have enough guys out there,” Ferens said. “On that play, the slot guy always runs a seam route, and he was wide open.”
Ferens capped the Comets’ scoring with a 6-yard run at the 6:29 mark of the fourth quarter. The Spartans would sandwich its final two touchdowns around Ferens’ fifth touchdown run – a 10-yard run by Billy Conroy and a 3-yard pass from Hendershot to Rhodes – to cap the game scoring.
One area of concern for Packer was the number of flags thrown – Penns Manor was hit with 17 penalties for 146 yards and Bishop Walsh was hit with 11 flags for 100 yards.
“The penalties killed us tonight,” Packer said. “We can’t be that undisciplined in the playoffs.”
Packer said Ferens had to carry the load offensively early on for the Comets, but he’s been getting some additional help lately. Vodopevic ran for 72 yards, Paulina ran for 41 yards before reaggravating an ankle injury and Chris Henderson and Cody Bytner also saw action this night.
“Overall, it was a total team effort tonight,” Packer said. “And Ferens is a special kid. He doesn’t have a big head and all the kids (on the team) look up to him, which is a credit to him.”
Bishop Walsh was paced by Hendershot’s 237 passing yards and three touchdowns. Redmon, the 6’5 target at receiver, only caught two passes, but they spanned 138 yards. The Spartans finished with minus-9 rushing yards on 22 team carries.
NOTE: The 231 rushing yards for Ferens brings his career rushing yardage total to 2,789 yards, reached by running for 973 yards as a freshman, 674 as a sophomore and the 1,142 yards this season. With at least two more games left in 2011 and his senior season remaining, Ferens has a chance to attain 4,000 career rushing yards, a mark never before reached in Penns Manor history.
Ferens’ six total touchdowns Saturday gives him 65 combined rushing and passing touchdowns in his career. Forty-three of those touchdowns have come on the ground.
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