Van­guards bounce back, hold off De­mons

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Neil Geoghe­gan ngeoghe­gan@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @NeilMGeoghe­gan on Twit­ter

KEN­NETT SQUARE >> With a pair of up­start pro­grams squar­ing off against each other, some­body was go­ing to make an­other state­ment on Fri­day in the Ches-Mont Amer­i­can clash be­tween Sun Val­ley and host Ken­nett. This one went to the Van­guards. Fol­low­ing a de­ci­sive first half, Sun Val­ley pro­ceeded to hold on and turn back the Blue De­mons, 21-13. With five vic­to­ries in six tries this sea­son, the Van­guards sure look like the big sur­prise for 2016 in the Ches-Mont.

“We are not used to win­ning this much,” said Sun Val­ley se­nior Ishy Ah­mad. “Hav­ing guys like this who are so ded­i­cated, it’s a big change in this pro­gram.”

Now 2-1 in the di­vi­sion, the Van­guards bounced back nicely from their only loss so far, a 24-point de­ci­sion last week against Great Val­ley.

Ken­nett falls to 1-1 in the league and 3-3 over­all.

“If peo­ple say we are a sur­prise, let’s keep sur­pris­ing them,” said quar­ter­back Gabe Boc­cella, who ac­counted for all three Sun Val­ley scores and added an in­ter­cep­tion on de­fense.

“It’s for other peo­ple to say if we are gain­ing re­spect or not,” added head coach Ray Gionta.

“All I know it we lost last week and we bounced back and had the good first half. Then we kind of hung in there and did what we had to do to some­how pull this game out.”

Com­fort­ably ahead at the half, 21-7, the Van­guards man­aged just 35 yards of to­tal of­fense the rest of the way. And even though Ken­nett made it in­ter­est­ing with a 70yard scor­ing drive to start the third quar­ter, Sun Val­ley never led the De­mons near the end zone again.

“Ken­nett made some ad­just­ments and were able to move the ball bet­ter, but they only scored one time,” Gionta pointed out. “They kept us out of the end zone, but we moved it when we had to at the end.”

Af­ter rush­ing for a mere seven yards in the open­ing half, Ken­nett turned to bruis­ing se­nior run­ner Con­nor Hyzny, and he promptly ran three times for 35 yards to set up a 35-yard pass from quar­ter­back Jacob Dilcher to Myles Robin­son. The point af­ter at­tempt, how­ever, was blocked.

“(Hyzny) is a tough run­ner, we de­cided to change what we were do­ing and he made a big dif­fer­ence,” said Ken­nett head coach Doug Langley.

In the fi­nal quar­ter, the Blue De­mons were whis­tled twice for chop blocks, which sab­o­taged one po­ten­tial game-ty­ing pos­ses­sion and nearly an­other. The sec­ond chop block left Ken­nett in a third-and-23, but Dilcher hit team­mate Mitchell Kosara for 24 yards to keep the drive alive in­side the Sun Val­ley 20. But mo­ments later, a hold­ing penalty set the De­mons back and they wound up turn­ing it over one downs.

“We had some penal­ties and that hurt us,” Langley said.

“I am still not 100 per­cent sure what hap­pened (on the chop blocks), so I can’t com­ment un­til I see the film. But they were huge calls, that’s for sure, be­cause we were mov­ing the ball and that puts us at sec­ond and 25. It’s hard to dig out of that kind of hole.”

The Van­guards were able to use some clock when Boc­cella found Ah­mad for a 25-yard re­cep­tion in the clos­ing min­utes. And even though Ken­nett got one last pos­ses­sion, a sack by Char­lie Wendling ended the threat.

“We have to play four quar­ters,” Langley said. “We didn’t play all that well in the first half.”

In the first half, Sun Val­ley burned the De­mons with the play ac­tion pass, scor­ing two first half touch­downs against a flat-footed Ken­nett sec­ondary. The first – a 13 yard pass from Boc­cella to Quentin West – capped a 14-play, 68yard drive to open the scor­ing. The sec­ond came on the first play af­ter a 5-yard shanked punt, and cov­ered 48 yards from Boc­cella to Ah­mad.

Ken­nett got on the board with a 30-yard sec­ond quar­ter scor­ing toss from Dilcher to Do­minic D’An­gelo, but Sun Val­ley came right back with an­other lengthy pos­ses­sion, that ended with a 2-yard keeper by Boc­cella. The Van­guards threat­ened to ex­tend the lead af­ter a Ken­nett fum­ble on the en­su­ing kick­off, but Jose Ro­driguez re­cov­ered a fum­ble with Sun Val­ley at the 5-yard line.

“Un­for­tu­nately, we turned it over right af­ter we got a turnover,” Gionta said. “If not for that it might have been a dif­fer­ent game.”

In all, Boc­cella was an ef­fi­cient 6-for-11 for 142 yards through the air. And Wendling gained 53 of his 85 rush­ing yards in the first half.

“You have to earn ev­ery­thing on the field,” said Ah­mad, who fin­ished with three catches for 91 yards.

“We knew head­ing into this sea­son that teams were go­ing to doubt us, but we also know how good we can be and the level we can play at.”


Ken­nett’s Do­minic D’An­gelo (24), scores for the Blue De­mons Fri­day night against Sun Val­ley.

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