Tykee Smith led the way for Imhotep Charter Friday night as he ran for 253 yards and five touchdowns, and the Panthers advanced to their third straight state final with a 34-14 win over Bethlehem Catholic in a PIAA Class 4A semifinal game at the Germantown Supersite.
The drama heading into the game revolved around Imhotep star Isheem Young, who was in custody and charged with robbing a Wawa in July. A standout senior running back and defensive back and a Penn State recruit, Young had been expected to play in the game. Imhotep head coach Nick Lincoln said before the game that Young was missing for "personal reasons" and would not comment further.
The Panthers (12-1) had an outstanding night on defense as they held the Bethlehem Catholic offense scoreless. The Golden Hawks scored only on two defensive touchdowns.
Imhotep, which also beat Bethlehem Catholic in last year's state semifinal, will face Cathedral Prep in Thursday's state championship. The Panthers beat Cathedral Prep in the 2015 3A state final but lost to Cathedral Prep in the 4A final last season.
"I think we just passed the midterm exam, but [Cathedral Prep] is the final," said Lincoln. "I think it's going to be a rumble. I'm excited for Thursday night."
Smith put the game out of reach in the third quarter when he recovered a fumble and rumbled 35 yards for his third touchdown of the night, making it a 21-7 game. Smith added two more scores, including a 46-yard run in the fourth quarter.
'We just couldn't overcome the speed that they had on defense," said Bethlehem Catholic head coach Joe Henrich.
The Golden Hawks, who won state titles in 1988 and 1990, head home after a 12-3 season.
Bethlehem Catholic 7 0 0 7 – 14
Imhotep 14 0 13 7 – 34
B: Dalton Daddona 75 fumble return (Anthony Dasilva kick)
I: Tykee Smith 3 run (Anthony Gordon kick)
I: Smith 25 run (Gordon kick)
I: Smith 35 run (Gordon kick)
I: Smith 14 run (kick failed)
B: Christan Drayton III 95 fumble return (Dasilva kick)
I: Smith 46 run (Gordon kick)