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Bell tolls five times Comets’ back stars in win over Warwick
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Through its first eight games, Warwick has seen a lot of good players on other teams.
Perhaps none, though, were at the level of Penn Manor’s Charlie Bell last Friday night.
"For the combination of power and speed, I’m going to say he’s the best football player I’ve seen in the L-L League this year," Warwick coach Bob Locker said. "He’s kinda freakish. He’s faster than he looks, he’s got great vision … He killed us. He just really killed us."
Bell rushed for a game-high 257 yards and four touchdowns on just eight carries, along with hauling in a receiving TD, leading Penn Manor to a 42-13 win over Warwick in a Section One game in Millersville.
The victory puts the Comets (4-1 L-L, 7-1 overall) on a collision course with Section leader Wilson (5-0 L-L, 8-0 overall) in a first-place showdown this Friday in West Lawn.
"Good win. Now we’re ready for (Wilson)," Bell remarked. "Hopefully we win and we’re on top of our Section."
They will certainly be tough to beat if they play as they did against Warwick (1-4 L-L, 3-5 overall). While limiting the Warriors to minus-seven rushing yards, the Comets piled up 463 of their 530 total yards on the ground.
"I told (Penn Manor coach Todd) Mealy after the game, they were the most physical football team we’ve seen all year," Locker said. "We’ve lost some games, but we haven’t been physically man-handled at any point in time this year until tonight and they kinda physically handed it to us. I always say I’ve got to watch film to see what the schemes were, but they took it to us pretty good."
While Warwick failed to execute a first down on its first two possessions, the Comets scored on both of theirs to take a lead they never lost. Bell’s one-yard TD dive capped a five-play, 59-yard scoring drive with 6:59 left in the first, and then he pulled one out for the highlight reel on Penn Manor’s next possession.
The senior back appeared to be going to the turf after a short gain, but he somehow kept his knee off the ground, regained his balance and went the distance for a 54-yard TD run to put the Comets up 14-0 with 5:33 remaining in the opening stanza.
"I don’t know if his knee touched or not, but if it didn’t, that’s just an amazing display of balance," Locker said.
Warwick caught a break a short time later when Penn Manor muffed a punt, which was recovered by Tyler Melhorn at the Warriors’ 41-yard line. After QB Matt Pennypacker found Anthony Fatjo in a seam for 53 yards, Tommy Garner’s second effort got him into the end zone on a one-yard TD run with 9:12 to go in the half. The PAT was off the mark, but Warwick was within 14-6.
The two teams traded punts, but then Penn Manor scored on its final three possessions of the half to break it open. On the first of those, with the Comets facing third-and-6, Bell took a direct snap, broke through the center of the line and raced 80 yards to the house to put Penn Manor up 21-6.
"Up until this week, they had been making a living running off tackle – 56, 57 power – so we schemed to take that away," Locker said. "They saw our adjustments and took advantage of it pretty quickly. I give them credit for that. We couldn’t keep people off our ‘backers. The notion of the defense is, you keep your linebackers clean and they make the tackles. But we couldn’t keep them clean."
Following a 17-yard TD run by Ashton Leschke (3 carries, 70 yards), Penn Manor QB Tanner Erisman (6-14-1, 67 yards) hit Bell for a 13-yard touchdown strike along the left sideline to make it 35-6 at the half.
Shortly after the break, the Comets invoked the mercy rule as Bell sprinted 63 yards to paydirt on the first play from scrimmage, again taking a direct snap and finding open spaces up the middle.
"We brought a guy in motion, took a (defender) out of the box and it was wide open," said Bell, who finished just one yard shy of single-game career-high of 258 yards, which he gained the previous week in a 35-21 win over Manheim Township.
That was enough for a physical Penn Manor defense which took away the Warriors’ running lanes. Warwick leading rusher Gabe Taylor was held to 12 yards on four carries.
"We were cognizant of the fact we might have a really hard time running," Locker said. "They do a great job of demanding double-teams and keeping their two ‘backers just free flow. They’re a really good football team."
With 1:07 left in the fourth, Warwick completed the scoring as Pennypacker hit Garner for a 30-yard TD strike. Kobi Biemesderfer added the PAT to make it 42-13.
Pennypacker finished 17-of-34 for 222 yards with one pick.
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