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Walls rushes to the forefront for St. Joe's Prep

Benny Walls gains 104 yards on six carries and scores a touchdown to lead Hawks in PIAA Class AAAA semifinal win over Pennsbury.

THAT WILL teach the

Daily News

to highlight the talented troupe of running backs in the St. Joseph's Prep backfield and leave out Benny Walls.

After the Hawks ran away from Ben Franklin in the Class AAAA city title game last month, the People Paper spilled ink for the exploits of James Bell, Olamide Zaccheaus and D'Andre Swift.

Truth be told, that triad combined for 284 yards and four touchdowns while Walls, who transferred in from Camden Catholic this season, toted just thrice for 6 yards.

Well, in Prep's, 37-7, PIAA semifinal win against Pennsbury on Saturday, Walls burst forth for 104 yards and a touchdown on only six carries (17.3 per).

Plus, his 73-yard, third-quarter touchdown was arguably the game's most exciting play. The 6-1, 193-pounder exhibited speed, power and a relentless style that left one would-be-tackler on his back and the others in his wake.

"I came through and I saw one kid on me," the Cinnaminson, N.J., resident said. "I didn't even feel the other kid. I spun away and saw Justin [Montague] lead-blocking for me so I just ran behind him the whole time and he took me there."

Walls' touchdown was the Hawks' last at waterlogged Charles Martin Memorial Field, where both bleachers were packed with umbrella-wielding fans.

Whether Pennsbury's four fumbles were the result of slippery conditions or not, Walls and Co. targeted turnovers before the game even began.

"We knew it was wet outside so the first person came in to make the tackle and the second went for the ball," said Walls, also a defensive back. "And that's what we did today."

Montague, Nick Vandevere, Zachary Goss and Dillon DeIuliis each recovered a fumble.

"Everything you saw today was the focus of practice this week and it feels good to execute that way," DeIuliis said.

Nick Bill added a 31-yard field goal for the Prep and Charles Snorweah (169 yards on 21 carries) had a 56-yard score for Pennsbury (13-2).

Bell finished with 62 yards and a score. Swift added 77 and two TDs while Montague scored on a 5-yard jet sweep that sent Prep into halftime with a 27-0 lead.

The victory sends SJP (10-3) back to Hershey to defend its title against District 7 top seed Pine-Richland (14-0) on Saturday at 6 p.m.

"It's a great feeling!" said Prep senior Jake Strain. "Two in a row. It's different than last year when it was the first time and everything is new to you, but your second time around you're kind of used to it.

"That's always the goal from the start. Sophomore year we knew we had a great team but came up short in the PCL. But last year, we had that mindset of 'never again, we have to get there.' It happened and it can happen again."

Senior captain Tom Johnson wanted to get back so badly that he played with an injured foot.

The 6-foot, 200-pound defensive back could be seen favoring his right foot before the game. He has battled foot injuries throughout his Prep career and had missed the last few games.

Johnson, who played while wearing a protective boot, explained why nothing would keep him off the field.

"Every time I get a chance to take the field with these guys is a blessing," he said. "It's the best feeling in the world to be out there and to know that I still have one more chance to go at it."

As for the pain, Johnson just smiled.

"It's all right. It feels good. Nothing to complain about."