Pioneers’ de­fense shuts out Harriton

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bruce Adams badams@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @mline­s­ports on Twit­ter

LOWER ME­RION >> Fol­low­ing Conestoga’s 21-0 win against host Harriton Fri­day evening, Pi­o­neer head coach Matt Di­a­mond paid trib­ute to ju­nior de­fen­sive end Scott Smith.

“Scott Smith has a mo­tor that doesn’t stop - he was all over the field tonight, both de­fen­sively and of­fen­sively [at tight end],” said Di­a­mond.

Smith reg­is­tered a quar­ter­back sack in the sec­ond quar­ter, and the Pioneers held Harriton to a sin­gle first down in the en­tire first half, as Conestoga built a 21-0 half­time lead.

“We have a re­ally good de­fen­sive team chem­istry - we’re a fam­ily on de­fense,” said Smith. “We re­ally came togther tonight, and we re­ally pre­pared well in prac­tice the week be­fore the game. Coach [Di­a­mond] gave us a great [pre-game] speech about hus­tling on ev­ery play, and the team cap­tains got us riled up, ex­cited to play.

“It re­ally feels good for us to get an­other win un­der our belt. We’ve been work­ing hard in prac­tice, and our coaches spend a lot of time with [game] film ev­ery morn­ing.”

Mid­way through the first quar­ter, Conestoga got its of­fense go­ing, with a nine-play, 60-yard touch­down drive that fea­tured all run­ning plays, with nearly all of the yardage picked up by ju­nior back Liam Kirk and se­nior back Mil­ton Robin­son.

On 3rd-and-3 at the Harriton 29 yard line, Kirk broke off a 13-yard run down the left side for a key first down; then with 4:14 left in the first quar­ter, Robin­son punched it in for a 7-0 lead.

A Harriton fum­ble two plays later gave Conestoga the ball at the Rams’ 49, but the Pioneers were hin­dered by sev­eral of­fen­sive penal­ties and had to turn the ball back over to the hosts.

A few min­utes later, an­other Harriton fum­ble gave Conestoga the ball at the Harriton 37, and this time, the Pioneers cap­i­tal­ized on a seven-play touch­down drive to go ahead 14-0. The key play was a 21-yard re­cep­tion by Smith on 3rd-and-7 at the Harriton 23.

Fol­low­ing a three-and-out by Harriton, Conestoga got the ball at mid­field and moved smartly down­field, helped by a 15-yard Harriton penalty, a 13 yard run by quar­ter­back Chris McGovern and the clincher, a 21-yard pass from Robin­son (who had taken a hand­off) to Brady Car­pen­ter into the right cor­ner of the end zone.

In the sec­ond half, Harriton’s de­fense tight­ened up, with se­nior line­backer Harry Thomas mak­ing a quar­ter­back sack on 3rd-and-8 mid­way through the third quar­ter, and ju­nior line­backer Max Co­p­ley in­ter­cept­ing a pass early in the fourth pe­riod. The Rams, with some fine line­backer play by Thomas and se­nior Jack Rosen­feld, did not al­low any points af­ter half­time.

“Our de­fense did a good job, we couldn’t sus­tain enough on of­fense, and that re­ally hurt us,” said Harriton head coach Justin Mel­lor. “That’s not like us [on of­fense] - we picked a bad time to play our worst [of­fen­sive] game. We had turnovers and penal­ties, and we couldn’t block the way we thought we would.

“We’ve got to be able to pick up the pieces - we’ve got a huge game com­ing up against Lower Me­rion next week, which our whole school will be jacked up for. It will be an op­por­tu­nity for us to make our sea­son by win­ning that game.”

The hosts be­gan to move the ball af­ter half­time, and Co­p­ley made some solid run­ning gains for the Rams. With a few min­utes to go, Harriton had its best of­fen­sive pen­e­tra­tion of the evening, mov­ing the ball in­side the Conestoga 10 yard line. But the Pioneers’ de­fense did not al­low a score.

“I thought we had a re­ally good week of prepar­tion for ev­ery­thing we thought Harriton liked to run,” said Di­a­mond. “I thought our play­ers re­ally ex­e­cuted well, and played re­ally phys­i­cal, es­pe­cially in the trenches.”

From time to time, penal­ties (and a cou­ple of fum­bles) slowed down the Conestoga of­fen­sive at­tack.

“We were mov­ing the ball; we had some penal­ties that kind of hurt us, but we made the plays when we had to,” said Di­a­mond. “I give credit to Harriton; I thought their kids played tough, and I thought our kids re­ally pre­pared well and played a real good foot­ball game.”

Di­a­mond said, “Any­time your de­fense pitches a shutout, that’s a good recipe for suc­cess, and I told the team [af­ter the game] that should give us mo­men­tum go­ing against a big team like Gar­net Val­ley next week.”

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