Hawks fall to Imhotep to end 2018 season
Bethlehem Catholic was full of hope heading into their third straight PIAA 4A semifinal with Imhotep last Friday night, but the hope turned into reality quickly in Northeast Philadelphia, as the Panthers jumped ahead early and never looked back in a 43-6 rout.
It was the third straight year Becahi fell to Imhotep at this stage of the state tournament, but this year’s result was the most convincing score in the recent series.
The Hawks (11-4) fell behind 21-0 at halftime and got their only points in the third quarter when Zamar Brake found Tavion Banks on a 39-yard TD throw with 7:00 left in the quarter to pull within 21-6 (failed PAT), but all that momentum was zapped on the ensuing Imhotep drive, when Jalen Sutton-Christian tossed a 30-yard TD to Yusuf Terry with 4:09 in the third to cap a six-play, 65-yard drive.
Sutton-Christian would score from two yards out just before the third ended to put Imhotep (11-2) comfortably ahead 34-6 heading into the final frame.
“My hats of to them [Imhotep] because I didn’t see this game being like this,” said head coach Joe Henrich. “We had opportunities to make plays early on and penalties hurt us and we just weren’t good enough tonight. I think we had some momentum after we scored, but they came right back with a touchdown and that certainly hurt.”
Imhotep established their dominance early, showing their speed and physicality on both sides of the ball. One of the keys for the Hawks coming into the game was not giving up big plays, but that sentiment didn’t last long, as star running back and West Virginia recruit, Tykee Smith, took a handoff early in the second quarter and raced 93-yards to put the Panthers up 13-0. He finished the night with 181 yards and two scores.
Turnovers also downed Becahi’s cause, as Brake fumbled late in the second quarter as the Hawks were driving at the Imhotep 34-yard line. The Panthers took the ball and worked their way down field, scoring from two-yards out on a Terry run with one second left before the halftime buzzer to put them up three scores.
“That score didn’t help the cause for sure,” Henrich said of the TD just before halftime. “I think they got the ball back with 1:30 left and they had guys that made plays in critical times and again, my hats off to them because they executed better than we did.”
Brake finished the night 11 of 19 for 134 yards and a TD. Becahi’s vaunted rushing attack only produced 147 yards on the night, while the Panthers churned out 316 yards. Becahi showed spurts of being able to run the ball, but weren’t able to do it consistently throughout the night. Penalties also plagued the Hawks, as they committed 14 for 90 yards.
Despite their season ending in similar fashion for a third straight year, Henrich made sure to remind his team and this senior group what they had accomplished over the past three years. Winners of three straight district titles, the Hawks have plenty to remember, but also have plenty of work to do if a fourth straight trip against Imhotep is in order a year from now.
“Tell me how many teams in the Lehigh Valley make it to three straight semifinals and that’s an accomplishment,” said Henrich. “We’ve played 45 games in three years. That’s a tremendous accomplishment to all the work these guys have put in. We just ran into a better team. We’re going to continue to go into the offseason with the mindset that this is where we want to be. We want an opportunity to play them because we’re here.”