#8 nationally-ranked William Penn (3-0), winners of six in a row, played much of the afternoon void of its normal signal caller as Taylor Parsons
(So., The Woodlands, Texas, College Park HS) was sidelined with an injury.
Enter back-up quarterback Jacob Ballanger
(Sr., Carlisle, Waldorf). The senior stepped up to the challenge and left little doubt that the Statesmen offense was still in good hands. William Penn picked up 360 yards of total offense, including 344 on the ground (83 by Ballanger himself).
Following a stop by the defense on the game's first possession, the visitors took over with a short field. Starting at the Luther 46-yard line, Ballanger controlled a thorough attack that used ten plays and 5:12 off the clock to take the lead.
The quarterback rushed five times on the drive, but ended it with a beautiful three-yard floating pass into the corner of the endzone that only Aaron Broyles
(So., Escondido, Calif., Escondido Charter HS) could reach.
The team's next possession did not fare so well with a Ballanger interception, prompting the coaching staff to bring Parsons off the bench.
Fortunately, the sophomore was healthy enough to lead his squad for the next time out, taking the ball 81 yards on 12 plays. He even placed the punctuation point with a one-yard scoring run to make it 14-0 with 4:49 left until halftime.
Parsons's day was cut short soon thereafter as he was stripped of the ball and the Norse (0-2) returned it 63 yards to cut the margin in half with exactly one minute to play until the break.DeMarco Sanders
(Sr., Horn Lake, Miss., Horn Lake HS) breathed life right back into William Penn with a kickoff return all the way to the Luther 46-yard line.
William Penn, again captained by Ballanger, quickly moved to the 20-yard line, and as the first half expired, Marcus Kerrigan
(So., Cary, Ill., Cary-Grove HS) connected on a 37-yard field goal to extend the advantage to double digits at 17-7.
The third quarter (and early fourth) would go down as one the program would like to forget with a missed field goal and two fumbles, all deep in Luther territory. Retaining the double-digit lead, William Penn did take some positives from the stanza as it torched 10:52 off the clock, leading to a 36:45-23:15 final edge in time of possession. The Statesmen ran 83 plays, compared to just 57 for the Norse offense.
The bitter taste quickly evaporated, though, with one spectacular special teams play as Chris Crawford
(Jr., Muskegon, Mich., Grand Valley State) returned a Norse punt 49 yards for a touchdown to put the game virtually out of reach with 11:04 left in regulation.
The score is the first in the punt game for William Penn since Andrew Harris went 47 yards against Quincy on September 19, 2009.
A late Luther touchdown made a slight dent in the lead, but a long, sustained drive milked away nearly all of the remaining seconds and the visitors claimed their sixth win in a row against non-conference opposition.Shawn Davis
(So., Hamersville, Ohio, Western Brown HS) was a quiet workhorse, nearly netting yet another 100-yard game. He finished the day with 17 rushes for a team-best 96 yards.
Without its offensive star available, even more pressure was placed on the Statesmen defense and the crew answered the call by limiting the home team to only 216 yards, including 89 on the ground.
Both teams committed four turnovers with Joseph Frye
(Fr., Detroit, Mich., Highland Park HS) accounting for half of Luther's with a pair of second-half interceptions.Rushawn Stewart
(Sr., Houston, Texas, Eisenhower HS) led the defense with 11 tackles. Jordi Vernor
(Sr., Ripley, Miss., Northeast Mississippi CC) and Damon Harrison
(Sr., Lake Charles, La., Lake Charles Boston HS) both forced fumbles and Micheal Welch
(So., Houston, Texas, Booker T. Washington HS) recovered Harrison's strip.
William Penn is back at home next Saturday to host Waldorf in Midwest League action at 6 p.m.