On the Right Foot

McEl­hiney’s kick lifts Hen­der­son into semis

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Ed Mor­lock emor­lock@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @emor09 on Twit­ter

UP­PER DUBLIN >> West Ch­ester Hen­der­son coach Steve Mit­ten never had a doubt.

De­spite the strong winds gust­ing through Car­di­nal Sta­dium, the War­riors called on se­nior kicker Bryce McEl­hiney from 30 yards away with three min­utes left in a tie game.

Ju­nior quar­ter­back Joe Saulino placed down the high snap, McEl­hiney gath­ered him­self af­ter a stud­der step and sent the ball through the up­rights to give No. 5 Hen­der­son a 17-14 lead that would hold up as the fi­nal score in the District 1 Class 5A quar­ter­fi­nals against No. 4 Up­per Dublin Fri­day night.

Hen­der­son will play at No. 1 Spring­field-Delco next Fri­day in the semi­fi­nals.

“We’ve had field goals win the game for us by Bryce McEl­hiney week af­ter week af­ter week go­ing all the way back to the first week against Ox­ford,” Mit­ten said.

The field goal was set up by a blocked punt by ju­nior Kavond Jones.

Hen­der­son took over at Up­per Dublin’s 20-yard line. Af­ter three plays and an at­tempt to draw the Cardinals off­sides on fourth-and-two, Mit­ten sent his kicker onto the field.

“Spe­cial teams are a third of the game,” Up­per Dublin coach Bret Stover said. “We knew they were com­ing. We prac­ticed it. Hat off to them, they made the play. We held and the kid made a nice field goal. We lost two games on

two field goals on this field this year. That’s noth­ing to be ashamed of. It’s dis­ap­point­ing, ob­vi­ously.”

The Cardinals had the ball twice af­ter the War­riors took the lead, but couldn’t get any­thing go­ing. They were stopped short of the sticks on fourth down on their first pos­ses­sion and only le­git­i­mate chance to put to­gether a drive. The sec­ond time they had the ball there was less than 20 sec­onds left in the game and they had no time­outs.

Up­per Dublin’s of­fense spent most of the game try­ing to fig­ure out the Hen­der­son de­fense. Quar­ter­back Justin Horn went 12for-21 for 76 yards and an in­ter­cep­tion. Ma­lik Boot­man was the lead­ing rusher with 61 yards on seven car­ries.

“(Hen­der­son’s) guys up

front re­ally kind of owned us up front — in the first half for sure,” Stover said. “They’re quick. They’re not overly big, but what they do, they do well. It was a great scheme by their de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.”

“Our de­fense is built to play phys­i­cal,” Mit­ten said. “We wanted to come in and play phys­i­cal War­rior football. We found that play­ing phys­i­cal de­fense and play­ing tough and grind­ing it out on of­fense and play­ing great spe­cial teams has been the win­ning formula around here for a long time ... Play great de­fense, play great spe­cial teams and get just enough of­fense. That’s a pretty good formula.”

Both of the Cardinals touch­downs tied the game.

Horn evened the score at 14 with 8:34 re­main­ing in the game. He went right up the mid­dle on a quar­ter­back keeper and raced 28 yards to the end zone.

They scored their first points of the game and tied

the game at seven with just 20 sec­onds left in the third quar­ter. On a fourth-an­done from the Hen­der­son six­yard line, Michael Cot­tom cut to the right and weaved his way into the end zone to get the Cardinals on the board.

On the very first play of the War­riors en­su­ing pos­ses­sion, run­ning back CJ Pre­ston took a carry up the mid­dle, shrugged off mul­ti­ple de­fend­ers and went 80 yards to put his side back on top.

“We were do­ing an­other op­tion play,” Pre­ston said. “I saw the hole open up on the left side. I cut it back, broke a cou­ple tack­les and I just saw green grass.”

Pre­ston fin­ished the game with 22 car­ries for 136 yards.

The War­riors scored the first points of the game with 1:52 left in the first half. On fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, Saulino took the snap and forced his way into the end zone.

DEBBY HIGH — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

West Ch­ester Hen­der­son quar­ter­back Joe Saulino hands the ball off to Thad­deus Robuck Fri­day night at Up­per Dublin.

DEBBY HIGH — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

West Ch­ester Hen­der­son run­ning back CJ Pre­ston keeps the ball close as he runs into Up­per Dublin’s Max Wein­berg Fri­day night.

ANNE NEBORAK — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Marple New­town’s An­thony Pao­letti runs with the ball as West Ch­ester East’s J.D. Car­roll tries to stop him.

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