Cougars pound out win over Vik­ings

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Nate Heck­en­berger nate­heck­en­berger@gmail.com @nheck­en­berger on Twit­ter

DOWN­ING­TOWN >> Down­ing­town East’s de­fen­sive line was great, its of­fen­sive line was good and the re­sult was an­other bruis­ing, no-frills vic­tory.

Fri­day, the host­ing Cougars shook off a dozen penal­ties and some off-and-on rain to knock off West Ch­ester East, 28-7, in the Ches-Mont Na­tional Di­vi­sion game.

Prior to the Vik­ings’ fi­nal drive in which both teams had back­ups in, the Cougars held them to mi­nus-44 yards rush­ing on 24 at­tempts, largely in part to the front four get­ting to the quar­ter­back six times and forc­ing quick passes the ma­jor­ity of the night.

“We have a lot of guys with quick feet and fast hands and we dom­i­nated,” Cougars se­nior Will Kiely said. “We played our foot­ball.”

The win es­sen­tially locks in a play­off berth for the Cougars (4-1 di­vi­sion, 7-2 over­all), who will fin­ish the reg­u­lar sea­son next week in the Bat­tle of the Brandywine against Down­ing­town West with a first-round home game on the line.

Down­ing­town East was hardly threat­ened by the Vik­ings (1-4, 4-5), thanks to the play of its lines. The Cougars led 14-0 at half­time af­ter a 38-yard catch and run by Jeremy Jen­nings from Bryce Lauletta, and a two-yard plunge by Jen­nings from the Wild­cat for­ma­tion.

West Ch­ester East had mi­nus-34 yards on the ground in the first half. While Vik­ings se­nior JD Car­roll (six re­cep­tions, 81 yards) made some plays, quar­ter­back JT Thomp­son rarely had time to make it to his sec­ond read with Kiely, Joey Jan­ick, Shane Hog­a­rth and Nica He­sel pin­ning their ears back for the Cougars ev­ery play.

“We felt if we could keep them from run­ning the ball and force them to pass, we could have suc­cess,” Down­ing­town East coach Mike Matta said.

The Cougars put the game away in the third quar­ter with touch­down runs of 64 and 10 yards by Dan Li­au­daitis. The se­nior run­ning back had a game high 148 on the ground, giv­ing him 937 for the sea­son.

The Vik­ings’ starters only had 12 plays in Cougar ter­ri­tory, re­sult­ing in zero points and one in­ter­cep­tion in the end zone by Jen­nings.

“We had a hard time pro­tect­ing the quar­ter­back and a hard time open­ing any holes for the run­ning backs,” Vik­ings’ coach Dave Gueriera said. “I think, over­all, when times started get­ting rough our men­tal tough­ness fal­tered.”

Down­ing­town East had its fair share of is­sues, mainly in the area of dis­ci­pline. The Cougars were pe­nal­ized 12 times for 124 yards and start­ing of­fen­sive tackle, Cameron Krasley, was ejected due to an un­sports­man­like con­duct penalty. Jen­nings had a 44yard touch­down run called back on the Cougars’ open­ing drive of the game.

“We played well at times but we were pretty self­ish and im­ma­ture at times,” Matta said. “If we play like that (against West), we’re go­ing to lose.”

The Vik­ings got their one pro­duc­tive drive on their fi­nal at­tempt. Fol­low­ing four kneel downs by the Cougars in the red zone, Vik­ings’ backup Pierre Marchant used a 56-yard run to set up a 17-yard sprint to pay dirt three plays later.

West Ch­ester East hosts West Ch­ester Hen­der­son in the sea­son fi­nale in a game that has brag­ging rights and play­off seed­ing on the line. Hen­der­son is a lock to make the Class 5A field, and the Vik­ings will prob­a­bly qual­ify, win or lose.

“We bounced back well last week against Sun Val­ley af­ter a tough loss to Down­ing­town West,” Gueriera said. “I think we have the in­testi­nal fortitude to do since we’ve proved we can do that. We’ll be play­ing a hun­gry Hen­der­son team so we’ll have to be ready for them.”

NATE HECK­EN­BERGER — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

West Ch­ester East’s Mike Sal­loum gets wrapped up by Down­ing­town East’s Will Kiely and com­pany dur­ing the first half Fri­day night.

NATE HECK­EN­BERGER — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Down­ing­town East’s Dan Li­au­daitis breaks free on a 64-yard touch­down run in the third quar­ter against West Ch­ester East Fri­day night.

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