Shamar Edwards did not anticipate that North Penn coach Dick Beck would call his number as much as he did, but the bruising and quick halfback was ready to carry the load.
"Coach Beck has a lot of faith in me, so that means a lot," the 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior said. "It makes me run that much harder."
Edwards carried 28 times for 313 yards and three second-half touchdowns as No 1 seed North Penn surged past No. 4 Downingtown West, 35-21, in Friday night's PIAA District 1 6A semifinal.
The contest was moved earlier in the day to Kottmeyer Stadium, Downingtown West's home field, from Wissahickon, which the Knights used for their first two playoff games, due to Thursday's surprise snowstorm.
Edwards broke free for scores of 58, 4, and 39 yards as North Penn (13-0) moved closer to winning its second district title in three years and eighth since 2002.
The Knights will face No. 2 seed Coatesville (13-0) for top honors next weekend. The Red Raiders hammered No. 3 Garnet Valley, 42-7, in Friday's other semifinal.
Overall, Edwards and Co. netted 405 yards on the ground on 46 attempts.
"We started to get our running game going in the second half, and we just stuck with it," Beck said.
The surge up front was led by center Noah Boast, guards Eddie Harkins and Shadman Alam, tackles Jake Walton and Donald Stites, and tight ends Corey Keim and Noah Fox.
"I give a lot of credit to the job our line did, especially in the second half," Edwards said. "They took over the game."
Downingtown West (11-2) had gone in front, 21-14, when Jackson Luneburg returned the second-half kickoff 87 yards.
On their next possession, the Whippets drove 80 yards on 14 plays to the North Penn 6-yard line.
But a chance to add to their lead was derailed by Kaleem Corbin's interception, on a deflection, in the back of the end zone. His feet were barely in bounds on the momentum-shifting play.
"If they score a touchdown there, it's 28-14 and the game is all but over," Beck said. "Considering that, yeah, we got a little lucky in winning this game."
The Knights opened the contest with a 14-play, 75-yard series that was capped by R.J. McNamara's 1-yard TD plunge. The junior fullback/tight end forged a 14-14 tie in the second quarter on his 20-yard rumble.
Downingtown West 0 14 7 0 – 21
North Penn 7 7 7 14 – 35
NP: R.J. McNamara 1 run (Ayoub Cherrady kick)
DW: Ryan Wetzel 10 run (Dan Byrnes 10 run)
DW: Tyler Alston 2 run (Byrnes kick)
NP: McNamara 20 run (Cherrady kick)
DE: Jackson Luneburg 87 kickoff return (Byrnes kick)
NP: Shamar Edwards 58 run (Cherrady kick)
NP: Edwards 4 run (Cherrady kick)
NP: Edwards 39 run (Cherrady kick)