In­ter­cep­tion on first drive opens flood­gates in Henderson vic­tory

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bill Rudick bru­dick55@gmail.com @bru­dick55 on Twit­ter

WEST CHESTER >> No. 12 Sun Val­ley started march­ing off a drive on its first pos­ses­sion Fri­day night, look­ing like it came to do bat­tle with No. 5 West Chester Henderson. The Van­guards mixed runs and passes to pick up three first downs and moved into Henderson territory.

But when a pass in­tended for Ishy Ah­mad ric­o­cheted off his hands and into the air, Sun Val­ley’s hopes fell back to Earth along with the ball.

That pass from Sun Val­ley QB Gabe Boc­cealla even­tu­ally fell into the hands of Henderson’s Nick Mascetti, who cra­dled it tightly and sprinted 73-yards to the house

for the game’s first score in a 42-16 Henderson win Fri­day night in the first round of the District 1 5A play­offs.

The Van­guards never re­ally re­cov­ered from that bad bounce.

“We had those two turnovers early, and it re­ally hurt us,” said Sun Val­ley coach Ray Gionta. “We were hop­ing to get a quick score and an early lead, but it didn’t work out. Henderson took ad­van­tage of our mis­takes, and we just couldn’t work back in it.”

Mascetti and Joe Saulino each had picks in the first quar­ter, with Saulino’s in­ter­cep­tion set­ting up the War­riors’ next touch­down, which came on the first play of the sec­ond quar­ter.

“They were throw­ing the screen early on, so we were look­ing for it,” said Mascetti. “I think the re­ceiver ac­tu­ally caught the ball, but just lost it. Once I had it in my hands, I knew I was go­ing to take it all the way back.”

It was a big turn­ing point, as Boc­cella never seemed com­fort­able the rest of the way.

“Nick’s in­ter­cep­tion was def­i­nitely a big turn­ing point,” said Henderson coach Steve Mit­ten. “Here we were halfway through the pe­riod, and we still hadn’t seen the ball be­cause they were mov­ing it on us. The ball took a funny bounce, and with Nick’s speed, he took it in. Huge shift in mo­men­tum.”

With the de­fense do­ing its job, the War­riors turned to their work­horse on of­fense, run­ning back CJ Preston. Preston had a mon­ster night, rush­ing for 166 yards on 15 car­ries, while scor­ing three touch­downs.

Preston’s first touch­down came with 5:32 in the half when the of­fen­sive line cre­ated a gap big enough to drive a truck through. Preston hit the hole and then cov­ered the re­main­ing green for a 58yard score.

“Our of­fen­sive line has been play­ing so well lately,” said Preston. “I’m so proud of the way they’ve been play­ing. Along with this whole team. We knew we had to come out fir­ing tonight, and we did. Feels great to get a district win.”

For the evening, Henderson piled up 254 yards on the ground. In ad­di­tion to Preston’s scores, the War­riors got one through the air when Saulino con­nected with Ian Tracy for a ten­yard TD, and Saulino ran one in from six.

Sun Val­ley’s scores all came in the fourth, on a 20-yard run from Quentin West, a safety, and a 10-yard scam­per from Julion Kelly.

“We’re not done with our sea­son yet,” said Gionta. “We still have our big ri­valry game against Chich­ester on Thanks­giv­ing, which has a play­off at­mos­phere re­gard­less of records. This has been a great sea­son. We broke a dry spell of ten years to get back to the play­offs. Our younger guys are go­ing to want this again.”

Henderson moves on for a matchup with Up­per Dublin.

“The name of the game is to sur­vive and ad­vance,” said Mit­ten. “The kids ex­e­cuted well, and we were for­tu­nate to get that big early lead. We chal­lenged them to play a com­plete game, and they worked hard all week for this win.”

BILL RUDICK — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Henderson’s CJ Preston runs through the Sun Val­ley de­fense Fri­day night.

BILL RUDICK — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Sun Val­ley’s Ishy Ah­mad hauls in an in­cred­i­ble catch Fri­day night against West Chester Henderson.

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