Cougars splash past Warriors
DOWNINGTOWN >> Saturday night, at a damp, rainy Kottmeyer Stadium, the Downingtown East football team played a very complete 48 minutes of football.
Junior quarterback Bryce Lauletta threw for a career-high 347 yards and three touchdowns, and the defense held West Chester Henderson to just 94 total yards of offense as it added up to a convincing 28-7 Ches-Mont League National Division triumph.
Downingtown East (2-0, ChesMont, 5-1 overall) got big offensive games from Jeremy Jennings, who hauled in a 72-yard touchdown pass from Lauletta in the second period, and Ethan Harris, who hauled in nine passes for 130 yards, and a touchdown. Throw in the 157 rushing yards from senior Dan Liaudatis and their were enough stars to go around.
“Bryce is a complete quarterback,” Downingtown East head coach Mike Matta said. “His brother, Trey, played at Bucknell. His brother, Kyle, is playing at Richmond and his father played at the Naval Academy. He is bred to be a quarterback and the reason people don’t know more about him is that we don’t go around bragging about him. He threw for 347 yards and he had at least two passes dropped, or he would have had a bigger night.”
Lauletta finished a typical Downingtown East drive in the first period, hitting Harris with a four-yard toss for a 7-0 lead over the Warriors (0-3, 3-3). The pass culminated a 14-play, 80-yard drive that feared a lot of Liaudatis banging on the Warriors’ front wall. The senior carried the ball 33 times on the night and moved the chains for the Cougars, who amassed 24 first downs.
Henderson got on the score-
“I sort of read the quarterback’s eyes. I saw the receiver go towards the sideline, and I sort of jumped the route and read the quarterback and just made a play on the ball.” — Downingtown East’s Jeremy Jennings
board after the Cougars botched a punt snap deep in their own territory. Henderson fell on the ball at the eight-yard line. Three plays later, C.J. Preston burst around the left side for a three-yard TD run and a 7-7 tie.
But, the Cougars shut out the Warriors from there, harassing quarterback Joe Saulino into a 6-29 passing night, with one interception. That pick came from Jennings, who jumped a route and picked off the pass at the East 40.
“I sort of read the quarterback’s eyes,” Jennings said. “I saw the receiver go towards the sideline, and I sort of jumped the route and read the quarterback and just made a play on the ball.”
Downingtown East only took four plays to get into the end zone, a long Lauletta to Harris pass play set up Lauletta to sneak in from the one for a 20-7 lead at halftime.
Jennings had a big half, with a 72-yard catch for a score, an interception and two pass breakups.
“I like playing offense, but to tell you the truth, I am more of a defense guy,” he said. “That is my game, and I like it better.”
Henderson punted the ball 11 times on the night, a sign of the dominance of the Cougars defense. Early in the third period after a Henderson three-and-out, the Cougars took a punt at their 42. Four plays later, Lauletta fired a 43-yard strike to a streaking Noah Hahn over the middle for a score, and after the twopoint conversion, it wasa 28-7.
Downingtown East has now allowed a measly 19 points in its last three wins, and received another big game from Will Keily, who had eight tackles.
Henderson head coach Steve Mitten was very impressed.
“I thought last year they had the best defense in the league,” Mitten said. “But, this year’s defense is as advertised. They are good up front and strong on the outside. But, our kids played hard and played well in spots. We hope we can build on this and have it carry over the rest of the season.”