Ex­tra point in 2nd OT lifts Tigers

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

NEW­TOWN SQUARE >> It took a cou­ple over­times to ex­tend it, but Marple New­town’s his­toric football sea­son con­tin­ues, and now it’s on to the District 1 5A semi­fi­nals.

Cameron Mathes grabbed a dou­ble over­time touch­down pass, and team­mate Reilly Fill­man booted the ex­tra point to give the Tigers a dra­matic come-from-be­hind, 38-37, dou­ble-over­time tri­umph over vis­it­ing West Ch­ester East in a quar­ter­fi­nal clash on

Fri­day at Crozier-Key­stone Sta­dium.

“I don’t even know where to start, but what a game,” said Marple New­town head coach Chris Gick­ing. “We were very for­tu­nate to come out one point ahead. At this point it is sur­vive and ad­vance.”

For the first time in pro­gram his­tory, the Tigers have won 11 games in a sin­gle sea­son, in­clud­ing a pair in the post­sea­son. Third­seeded Marple New­town (11-1 over­all) ad­vances to the semi­fi­nals next Fri­day to play No. 2 Academy Park, a 26-13 win­ner over Bishop Shana­han.

“This is the first time this pro­gram’s ever had 11 wins,” said Mathes, who hauled in six catches for 151 yards. “It’s amaz­ing play­ing for this team, and ev­ery week we go in know­ing we have to do what­ever we can to make it last an­other week.”

It was a gutsy per­for­mance, but, ul­ti­mately, a dis­ap­point­ing end to the sea­son for the 11th-seeded Vik­ings (5-7 over­all). A week ear­lier, West Ch­ester East notched its first play­off vic­tory in a decade.

“Our se­niors changed the cul­ture of this pro­gram,” East head coach Dave Gueriera said. “We look for­ward to a bright fu­ture.

“I think now that our un­der­class­men got a taste of what it’s like to win a play­offs game and play in an en­vi­ron­ment like this one, it will pro­pel them. Once you get a taste of it, you want more.”

There were a seem­ingly end­less ar­ray of twists and turns in this one, in­clud­ing a huge blocked ex­tra point by the Tigers’ Nick Di­crec­chio in dou­ble over­time, which would up giv­ing Marple New­town a chance to win it on its pos­ses­sion in the sec­ond OT. Mathes pro­ceeded to grab a 10-yard TD pass from wide­out Carmen Chris­tiana that knot­ted the score at 37-37, set­ting the stage for Fill­man’s game-win­ning PAT.

“We prac­tice a bunch of those types of plays for these sit­u­a­tions,” Gick­ing said. “Carmen and Cameron both made great plays.”

In the first over­time, Tigers’ quar­ter­back An­thony Pao­letti scored on a 10-yard keeper, but West Ch­ester East back Jared Cooper tied it with a short run. It came mo­ments af­ter Marple New­town thought it had won the game when a fourth-down pass went in­com­plete, but the Tigers were flagged for rough­ing the passer.

“We have faith in our kids,” Gick­ing said. “We told them to keep grind­ing, keep bat­tling and good things will hap­pen.”

Cooper opened the sec­ond OT with a 10-yard strike, giv­ing the ju­nior four touch­downs on the day. He rolled up a game-high 150 yards rush­ing on 32 gru­el­ing car­ries.

Dead­locked at 14 at half­time, Marple New­town opened a 10-point mar­gin with a Fill­man field goal and a four-yard scor­ing run by Mar­lon Weathers. But East fought back, cut­ting the deficit to 24-21 on an 11-yard run by Cooper.

And then, with time run­ning out, East put to­gether a 10-play, 65-yard march to set up a game-ty­ing 23-yard field goal by se­nior Jake Bon­nett, who was the hero at the end of reg­u­la­tion a week ear­lier in the win at Unionville. Cooper gained 57 yards in the drive, and had 114 of his to­tal af­ter the in­ter­mis­sion.

“It was crazy,” Mathes said. “We knew com­ing in (West Ch­ester East) was go­ing to bat­tle, but we didn’t know it would take that long. We just did what­ever we could to make sure we won the game.

“They al­ways came back no mat­ter what we threw at them.”

The Tigers opened the scor­ing with a 74-yard first quar­ter march, and run­ning back Mar­lon Weather logged 58 of it on nine car­ries, in­clud­ing the fi­nal three yards. A bad snap led to an un­suc­cess­ful point af­ter at­tempt.

The Vik­ings came back to grab a 14-6 lead af­ter two big spe­cial team plays in the sec­ond quar­ter. First, Austin Pitt blocked a Marple New­town punt, and a few plays later Michael Gray hauled in a seven-yard pass from Johnathan Thomp­son. And later Jack Phe­lan pounced on a muffed punt deep in Tigers’ ter­ri­tory, and Cooper scored from six yards out on the next play.

In the wan­ing min­utes of the half, how­ever, Marple New­town came back to tie it, thanks to a 13-yard pass from Pao­letti to Dash Dul­ge­rian. And Dul­ge­rian grabbed a pass from Chris­tiana for the two-point con­ver­sion.

Pao­letti fin­ished with 203 yards pass­ing and Weathers wound up with 106 yards on 25 at­tempts, and scored twice.

“I’m just re­ally proud of our kids,” Gick­ing said.

“We’ve had a re­solve and re­siliency all sea­son,” Gueriera added. “In this one, de­spite some of the mis­takes we made, we bat­tled back and had an op­por­tu­nity to win the game. I am just so proud of my team.”

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