North Penn-Mansfield improves to 5-4 by beating CMVT 41-0

ALMEDIA – Way back in Week 1 in late August, North Penn-Mansfield opened their season by being dominated by a veteran Canton team, and it looked like could be a long season full of growing pains for a very young Panther squad.

While Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech is certainly nowhere near the caliber of Canton, the Panthers’ progression from the first week of the season to being on the cusp of its rivalry game next week and the subsequent postseason was most definitely on display on Saturday afternoon in Columbia County.

Kohen Lehman scored five touchdowns – halfway to the state record for touchdowns in a game – and NPM took advantage of six CMVT turnovers to improve to 5-4 with a 41-0 win over the Rams.

The win guarantees the Panthers at least a .500 record for the regular season – not bad for a team that has 16 freshmen and sophomores on its varsity roster – and with a win next week against rival Wellsboro, NPM will guarantee a winning record for the season, and more importantly a more favorable seeding for the upcoming District 4 Class AAA playoffs.

“We knew how young we were this year and the kids have been working hard each week and we’ve been getting better,” said NPM coach Tom Dickinson. “Kohen Lehman had a day today, and we took care of business and did what we needed to do today. We just need to keep working. I told them we’ve got one more week to get better and then the playoffs will be tough. We’ll let the seniors keep enjoying their final season and let the young kids keep gaining experience and keep trying to get better each week.”

The Panthers managed to blank the Rams despite being at nearly an 18-minute disadvantage in time of possession. But CMVT’s nearly 33 minutes (32:51) of possession was largely negated by six turnovers, five of which directly led to NPM touchdowns, including two interception returns for touchdowns.

CMVT was coming off a two-week hiatus due to a COVID situation in its school.

“We saw when we came back to practice on Monday, some of the fundamentals – when you have two weeks off, I was afraid that the mindset of what it takes to concentrate on fundamentals was a little off this week and it showed in the game,” said CMVT coach Mark Varner. “All those things that we were moving forward in, we took a couple of steps back.”

NPM took a four-possession lead early in the second quarter despite its offense only scoring once. After the Panthers turned it over on downs at the CMVT 30-yard line on their first possession, Lehman picked off two passes on each of the Rams’ next two possessions and took them both to the house, going 37 and 51 yards, respectively, on interception returns for touchdowns to give the Panthers a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Rams committed their third turnover near the end of the opening quarter as they fumbled away a handoff deep in their own territory at their own 24. NPM turned that into another score as Lehman notched his third of what would be five touchdowns on the afternoon, capping a short drive with a one-yard touchdown run.

Special teams then produced another touchdown as CMVT punted after going three-and-out on their next possession, and Cameron Fabian returned it 82 yards for a touchdown to make it 27-0.

From there, the Rams put together a drive that lasted 9:24, but was stopped when Caden Long threw his third interception, which was picked off at the NPM 22 by Sammy Lawrence, who returned it to the NPM 31. With just :50 left in the half, the Panthers got an 11-yard reception by Lawrence, followed by a 58-yard touchdown run by Lehman for his fourth score of the afternoon, making it a 34-0 game at the half.

“He just made plays when got the chance and was in the right place at the right time, and that gave us a big boost getting those two defensive touchdowns,” said Dickinson. “We didn’t have the ball much on offense in the first half.”

The Rams were able to force their lone turnover of the game when Shane Tomlinson picked off Karson Dominick early in the third quarter at the Ram 6-yard line. But CMVT subsequently lost another fumble at their own 35, and two plays later, Lehman capped the scoring by finding the end zone for the fifth time, this one on a 35-yard run, to cap both his outstanding afternoon and the scoring.

Lehman finished with 112 rushing yards and exactly 200 all-purpose yards with his two interception returns. Dominick completed over 71% of his passes — 10 of 14 — for 81 yards.


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