Neshaminy rallies to nip Pennsbury,
By Chris English
Courier Times Sports Writer
After a comeback win straight out of
a movie script, it may have seemed Friday night
belonged to everyone associated with Neshaminy High
School football. Perhaps, however, it belonged more
to Jim Dougherty more than anyone.
Closing out his high school career
with probably his finest game, Neshaminy’s senior
halfback scored the winning touchdown as the
Redskins (5-3, 8-3) notched a dramatic 17-14 win
over archrival Pennsbury (2-6, 5-6) in a Suburban
One League National Conference Patriot Division
The win, before some 6,000 at
Neshaminy’s Harry E. Franks Stadium, was the first
for a Neshaminy team over Pennsbury since 1977
(seven straight losses). Neshaminy, top-ranked in
the Courier Times Poll, had lost to the fifth-ranked
Falcons the past two years with SOL National
Conference titles on the line.
This time, however, Neshaminy earned
a tie for the Patriot Division championship with
Council Rock, which fell to William Tennent, 19-0,
For the night, Dougherty accounted
for 134 yards of total offense with 63 rushing and
71 receiving. He scored both Neshaminy touchdowns
(the first was on a 1-yard run) and caught a
two-point conversion pass from quarterback Bill
Vergantino after the winning TD.
“I haven’t beaten Pennsbury since our
ninth-grade team did it,” said Dougherty after the
game. “This is the best feeling I’ve had in a long
The winning touchdown came when the
Redskins were on the very brink of yet another
frustrating loss to the Falcons. With a
fourth-and-17 on the Pennsbury 32-yard line and only
2:13 left in the game, Vergantino faded back to
pass. Dougherty, running an out-and-up pattern out
of the backfield, got well behind the Pennsbury
coverage and hauled in the winning toss.
“They hadn’t covered me on the play
before so we went with the call,” Dougherty said.
“The split end runs a curl pattern and that kind of
suck the deep coverage in and I just break it off.
No one really covered me.”
Dougherty then added the conversion
for the final points. Pennsbury got the ball back,
but Dave Paino intercepted a Shawn Ortman pass with
only a minute left to preserve the win.
Nesahminy had taken a 3-0 lead at the
end of two rather sluggish quarters for both teams.
Pat Jaggers kicked a 31-yard field goal (his seventh
of the year) midway through the second quarter after
a Neshaminy march stalled on the Pennsbury 15.
The third quarter belonged to
Pennsbury, in particular senior fullback-linebacker
Craig Behnke. He scored on runs of 1 and 66 yards to
stake Pennsbury to a 14-3 advantage heading into the
last quarter. On the night, he led all rushers (110
yards on eight carries) and was his usual active
force on defense.
“I’m big and heavy (6-1, 228 pounds)
but I like to use my speed too,” Behnke said. “That
long run was a 37-end run. Our end told me he was
going to block down and there would be a lot of room
around the end and just break it to the outside, and
that’s what I did.”
Neshaminy came out with renewed
intensity in the fourth quarter. After taking over
in good field position (their own 47) after Behnke’s
long run, the Redskins quickly marched 53 yards in
nine plays to close the gap to 14-9 (the extra point
kick was wide) with 9:40 to go in the game.
Dougherty finished with a 1-yard plunge.
The winning Neshaminy drive started
with 7:02 remaining and consumed 71 yards in 11
plays. A clutch Vergantino to Dougherty screen pass
for 20 yards kept things alive on a third down and
set up the winning toss.
“It was kind of poetic justice in a
way that Jimmy (Dougherty) caught the winning score
because he’s been such a workhorse all year,” said
Neshaminy Coach Dick Bedesem. “He’s run back punts
and kickoffs and done a great job blocking for our
“I think when the kids looked up at
the scoreboard and found themselves behind, 14-3,
after three quarters, they were embarrassed. They
just made up their minds to go after it and that’s
what they did.”
Vergantino injured himself during
pregame warm-ups and was a doubtful starter for a
“The field was hard before the game
and I twisted my knee and had a slight cartilage
tear,” he explained. “During the game it would feel
good at times but I’d get hit and it would tighten
up again. I didn’t want to come out in a game like