Imhotep runs past Becahi
They say speed kills in sports and that sentiment was true for Bethlehem Catholic in their quest to take down Imhotep Charter in last Friday’s PIAA 4A semifinals in Philadelphia.
The Panthers size and speed proved to be no match for the Hawks, as Imhotep pulled away for a 34-14 victory.
The win pushes the Panthers to this Thursday’s state championship game against Erie Cathedral Prep, a rematch of last year’s state final, while the Hawks saw their season end to the Panthers for a consecutive season in the state’s final four.
Becahi had everything going for them before and early in the contest, as news leaked out that Imhotep’s star running back, Isheem Young, would be suspended due to being detained in police custody for a July robbery of a convenience store.
Young, a four-star Penn State recruit, was Imhotep’s ball hawking safety and top runner in the backfield. His absence only allowed another Division-I recruit, Tykee Smith, to take center stage.
The junior wide receiver and fourth string running back on the team took over the backfield role against Becahi and made things look easy, plowing his way to a five touchdown, 253-yard performance.
“The kid [Smith]wasn’t even a running back coming into the game other than when they were in the Wildcat,” said Becahi head coach Joe Henrich. “That’s the way that program is. They go six deep everywhere, but that doesn’t matter because you have to go out and play and I thought we played hard and gave ourselves some chances. We just couldn’t overcome the speed they had on defense.”
The Hawks (12-3) started out fast on defense, forcing a fumble early in the first quarter, leading to Dalton Daddona scooping up the loose ball and running 45-yards for the opening score. After forcing a three and out on Imhotep’s next offensive series, the Panthers then took control of the first half with TD runs of 3 and 25 yards by Smith.
Tavion Banks burst through the line for a 52-yard run late in the first half, but was caught from behind, which probably never happens in the Lehigh Valley, but it happened against Imhotep defenders.
Banks’ run set up the Hawks at the Imhotep 30-yard line with 1:04 left in the half, but was an example of missed opportunities for the Hawks, as they came away from the drive without a field-goal attempt before halftime to trail 14-7.
The Hawks got the ball to open the second half and started at the Imhotep 47, but a Javon Clements fumble gave the ball back to the Panthers. Imhotep would turn the ball over on the ensuing drive, but Daizhun Rhodes returned the favor with a fumble on the next play and Smith made them pay with his most impressive and merciless run of the game, dragging defenders and breaking tackles en route to a 35-yard TD run to make it 21-7 in the third quarter. Smith would add a 14-yard score before the period was over to make it 27-7.
Shamus Williams recovered an Imhotep (13-1) fumble and returned it 98-yards in the fourth quarter for a TD to make it 27-14 and breathe some life into the Hawks, but the reality was that it was never enough without the offense even flirting to score in the game, as the Hawks mustered only 189 yards of total offense.
Smith would add a 45-yard TD run late in the game to ice the contest and Becahi was left tipping their hat to a bigger, stronger and faster team.
“We were never able to get into any rhythm as a team because of their defensive athleticism,” Henrich said. “In the end, for us to be able to come back to the state semifinal two years in a row, says a lot about our kids, their work ethic and about our program. I told them afterward, when this pain subsides, they’re going to have unbelievable memories. We can’t allow this to define our season and what they were able to accomplish.”