With only.07 seconds remaining on the game clock, junior quarterback Ryan Tinknell fired a 7-yard scoring strike to tight end Eric Fath that declawed the Cheltenham high Panthers for the day and lifted the visiting Quakertown Panthers to a 28-21 non-league victory last Saturday afternoon at Wyncote.The contest's deciding play was spurred by a Tinknell 37-yard pitch to halfback Tony Latronica who made a stunning catch while draped by Cheltenham defender Mikhail Reed. Geoff DeLan iced the triumph cake with his conversion kick. Visiting Quakertown got their offense cooking early in the first quarter when Tinknell and Fath combined on a 32-yard connection to pump the locals to a 7-0 lead after DeLan's placement boot.
The Host Panther's, minutes later, deadlocked the count when Reed swiped a Tinknell heave that set up a 23-yard TD run by the versatile, two-way Cheltenham performer. Jake Smith nailed the PAT. To knot the score at 7-7 midway in the quarter. Quakertown picked up four first downs in succession and with a roughing the passer penalty moved the pigskin to the Host 3-yard marker. Scat back Latronica, behind some tough blocking, punched into pay dirt, upping his team's advantage to 14-7 after DeLan's placement kick.
The southern-based 309 gang bounced back after a weak Quakertown kick off placed the ball on the Chelt's 45-yard line. Speedy halfback Damin Finley broke loose for a 24-yard pickup and 1 play later Reed scampered 31-yards for his second touch-down and again the encounter was even. Smith added the PAT. Cheltenham threatened again advancing the football to the Quakertown 25-yard line. However, a nifty pass interception by Kurtis Roberts nixed the push and the first half concluded.
After the ensuing kick off, the Chelts drove to the Visitor's 49-yard line and the ever-present Finley, escaped around Quakertown's left flank for the score that evened the game. A conduct infraction against the Hosts resulted in a 25-yard placement kick for the gifted-kicker Jake Smith. At this point, with the contest knotted at 21-21, Quakertown was determined to swing this one to the win column. After Cheltenham punted the pigskin, the visitors took possession at their own 32-yard marker. Junior signal-caller Tinknell scooted 11-yard on a quarterback draw play. Next. The lefty pitched 10-yards to his stalwart end Fath to the Chelt 47-yard line. Two plays later Tinknell made the 37-yard connection to Latronica that helped plate the victory score.
"I thought our defense played well," said Quakertown coach John Donnelly. "I'm really proud of our guys mettle, they were persistent and did not hang their heads. They kept banging their heads and that's Quakertown football."
Senior defensive back Vince Rosannelli, a youngster of few words, simply said, "I played my hardest. I tried to keep Reed and Finley (Cheltenham backs) in check. They were good runners but we played four quarters and got it done."
Linebacker Rob Basile, hampered with leg cramps during the game elated with the triumph. "It feels amazing to be 3-0. We told ourselves at practice all week, we're 3-0, we're 3-0 and the fact that we're turning around last season's record makes it all the better."
Quakertown's Mike Festa, an another two-way player who has shined in all three games this season noted that, "Tony Latronica's catch of a Ryan Tinknell pass late in the game was the key play that set up Eric Fath's game winning touch-down." Quakertown, with their three game win skein behind them, will look for their fourth in a row when Plymouth-Whitemarsh comes to town this Friday evening at 7 p.m.
Latronica had 19 carries for 144-yards-2 TD's. Tyler Burke 9 carries for 59 yards. Tinknell-10-18-180-yards-2TD's.
Fath-6 receptions for 119-yards-2 TD's.
Assistant coach Chris Gunning on the win - "It was awesome, just flat-out awesome. Everyone just kept fighting, they wanted to win and they kept fighting to win. We'll enjoy the win until next week when PW comes in."
Bud Kern is a freelance writer for The Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.