Cougars’ Town: Jen­nings’ 3 TDs lead Cougars to quar­ters

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Mike Cabrey mcabrey@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @mp­cabrey on Twit­ter

DOWN­ING­TOWN >> Jeremy Jen­nings ran for a pair of touch­downs in the fourth quar­ter, the sec­ond from 59 yards out to put Dow­ing­town West ahead 12 with 3:22 re­main­ing, as the sixth-seeded Cougars sur­vived a tough chal­lenge from No. 11 Soud­er­ton to earn a 33-21 vic­tory in the District 1 6A first round Fri­day night at Kottmeyer Sta­dium.

“Big play­ers got to step up big in big games,” said East coach Mike Matta.

Jen­nings also caught a touch­down pass in the sec­ond quar­ter for the Cougars (9-2), who won their fourth straight and ad­vance to the district quar-

ter­fi­nals for the third con­sec­u­tive sea­son. Down­ing­town East will face Perkiomen Val­ley on the road next week. The third-seeded Vik­ings rolled past No. 14 Penn Wood, 55-28.

“I think be­liev­ing the pro­gram, that’s what we told our kids at half­time. We said we don’t need to make ad­just­ments, we just got to do what we do,” Matta said. “I think we doubted our­selves a lit­tle bit. And that’s a phys­i­cal, well-coached foot­ball team. They punched us in the mouth and I don’t think we were ready for that.”

Soud­er­ton (6-5) was mak­ing its first play­off ap­pear­ance since 2010 and was look­ing for its first district vic­tory since 2006 when it de­feated Down­ing­town East in the 4A 1st round.

Be­hind the bruis­ing run­ning of se­nior Koby Khan — who ran 31 times for 181 yards — the In­di­ans twice took the lead in the first half, the sec­ond time when Khan crossed the goal line from six yards out to put the In­di­ans up 14-7 with 2:12 left in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Down­ing­town East, how­ever, pulled level in the fi­nal minute, Bryce Lauletta scram­bling for a 17-yard touch­down on 3rd-and-8 to make it 14-14 at 36.6 sec­onds.

“First half, we con­trolled things and the score­board didn’t in­di­cate what kind of game it was in the first half,” said Soud­er­ton coach Ed Gal­lagher. “I think if we held them out of the end zone there and kept it at 147, we’d of been fine.”

With the game still 1414 in the third, Soud­er­ton thought it had a long completion into East territory, but a pair of penal­ties on the play set the In­di­ans back in­side their own 10 and the Big Red punted two plays later.

“It was a bad call — one of many. But what am I go­ing to do. They called them. That’s part of the game,” Gal­lagher said.

The Cougars be­gan their next drive on the Soud­er­ton 29 and used the great field po­si­tion to take the lead for good as Jen­nings’ seven-yard touch­down run capped a five-play drive at 10:27 in the fourth quar­ter. East did not con­vert the ex­tra point, leav­ing the score, 20-14.

Fac­ing a 4th-and-7 on the next se­ries, Soud­er­ton quar­ter­back Joe Curotto found Shane Day for nine yards down to the East 31. But that was as close as the In­di­ans got to the end zone, turn­ing the ball over on downs at the 37.

Two Dan Li­au­daitis runs set up 3rd-and-6 from the Cougars 41. Jen­nings broke through the line and found open space, outrun­ning the In­di­ans for a 59-yard score at 3:22 for a 26-14 East ad­van­tage.

“They found a way to crack a seam with their re­ally fast run­ning back,” Gal­lagher said. “We bot­tled him up for the most part but credit to him he found a way through that seam and we he got out there, he fin­ished and he did what he had to do and he got in the end zone.”

The East de­fense put the con­test away as Chris Day in­ter­cepted a pass the Cougars got a hand on at the line and re­turned it for a 60-yard touch­down for a 33-14 lead with 2:24 to go.

Khan scored his sec­ond touch­down on a two-yard run at 1:06 to make it 3321. The In­di­ans’ on­side kick went out of bounds.

NATE HECKENBERGER — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Bryce Lauletta of Down­ing­town East pow­ers in for a 17-yard touch­down run against Soud­er­ton.

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