The La Salle defense did a pretty good job of containing Imhotep's Tykee Smith out of the backfield for about three quarters Friday night at Upper Dublin.
In the final frame, however, Smith finally broke free, taking a handoff up the right side for 73 yards and the score that essentially put the Explorers away for good.
Imhotep added a few late tallies, which resulted in a 34-10 victory, capping an emotional few weeks for Smith and the Panthers.
On Thursday, Smith, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound, multipurpose standout, committed to West Virginia.
The previous week, the Imhotep community lost friend and former teammate, Kristian Marche, who was murdered, just days before he was to resume his career as a student-athlete on the track at Penn State.
Marche wore No. 11 as a wide receiver on the Panthers football team.
"Eleven strong," was a motto repeated several times in pre- and postgame huddles.
Just before kickoff, Imhotep coach Nick Lincoln addressed his team and asked them to reflect upon their "brother," who could no longer compete.
Lincoln, now in his third year as the Panthers coach, made the same request after the game.
"He's watching over us," Smith said, "so everything we do we dedicate the season to him."
Smith led the Panthers (1-0) with 124 yards and 2 touchdowns on 8 carries. He also played the majority of the team's defensive snaps at safety and also logged special teams action.
Smith succumbed briefly to cramps in the third quarter, as did several players from both teams.
"Just with all the hard work we did in the offseason I couldn't show that I was tired," Smith said.
His teammate, senior wideout Yusuf Terry got the Panthers on the board with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Steve Depaul, who played at North Penn last season.
Depaul finished 9 of 13 for 149 yards, while Jalen Sutton-Christian took most of the second-half snaps (4 of 4 for 49, and a rushing score).
La Salle (0-1) had taken an early lead after a 14-play, 63-yard drive started the game and ended with a 3-yard pass from Jack Machita to Liam Tatlonghari.
The Explorers led 7-6 at intermission. Machita finished 17 of 39 with 125 yards and a score.
Both teams committed untimely penalties (Imhotep 9 for 75 yards, La Salle 4 for 30), but the Panthers lost two fumbles in the first half that ended opportunities.
Imhotep finished with 387 total yards, while La Salle had 181.
Defensively, Zymir Cobbs finished with 2 sacks and was disruptive all night.
Imhotep 6 0 8 20 – 34
La Salle 7 0 0 3 – 10
LS: Jack Machita 3 pass to Liam Tatlonghari. Jake Gandolfo kick.
IM: Steve Depaul 43 pass to Yusuf Terry. Run failed.
IM: Tykee Smith 18 run. Symear Williams run.
LS: Jake Gandolfo 40 field goal.
IM: Smith 73 run. Yusuf Terry from Steve Depaul.
IM: Jalen Sutton-Christian 7 run. Run failed.
IM: Damir Green 7 run. Kick failed.