Rice makes the plays as Lancers tip O’Hara

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - SPORTS - By Christo­pher A Vito For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

CHEL­TENHAM » The line of peo­ple wait­ing to hug Lon­nie Rice seemed never-end­ing. First, it was a fan that had rushed the field. Then, an as­sis­tant coach wrapped him up and pounded on his shoul­der pads. A team­mate was next, giv­ing Rice a big em­brace.

Why Rice? Be­cause his fin­ger­prints were all over Bishop McDevitt’s win, what coach Mike Watkins called “a cul­ture win.” Rice had an­other name for it. “This was the first of what we think can be many state­ment wins,” Rice said, fol­low­ing McDevitt’s 10-7 vic­tory Satur­day night over vis­it­ing Car­di­nal O’Hara.

Im­prob­a­bly, the Lancers (4-0, 1-0) came out on top in their Catholic League Blue opener. They didn’t out­gain Car­di­nal O’Hara. Their lead­ing rusher, who had av­er­aged 173 yards per game, had only 32. And they mus­tered only five first downs. And yet, here they were. “This is only the be­gin­ning,” said Bishop McDevitt de­fen­sive end Ty­rone Fowler.

Rice turned the game in McDevitt’s fa­vor early in the third quar­ter, after the teams had played to a score­less first half.

The 6-foot sopho­more stepped in front of a pass from O’Hara quar­ter­back Bobby Side­rio and re­turned the in­ter­cep­tion 55 yards for what looked like a touch­down. At the last mo­ment, though, O’Hara wide re­ceiver Justin San­tilla chased down Rice and poked the ball from Rice’s hands and out of the side of the end zone.

What should have been the game’s first score be­came a turnover that gave the ball back to O’Hara.

“I was like, ‘OK, back on de­fense. I’ve got to get this ball back,’” said Rice, who also plays quar­ter­back for the Lancers. “I was fu­ri­ous, but I told my guys, ‘Trust me, I’ll get this back.’”

Two plays later, Rice picked off Side­rio yet again; this time, his 26-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn stood, giv­ing McDevitt a 7-0 lead.

O’Hara’s of­fen­sive woes con­tin­ued. The Lions’ next drive ended after only two plays when a high snap by cen­ter Ryan Culp got away from Side­rio. McDevitt re­cov­ered at the O’Hara 6-yard line, and the Lancers added a field goal to ex­tend their lead to 10-0 mid­way through the third.

That was the last of a sea­son-high five turnovers, in­clud­ing two on high snaps, for O’Hara (3-1, 0-1).

“Neg­a­tive plays, they’ll kill you,” Lions coach B.J. Ho­gan said. “I don’t care if it’s grass, if it’s turf, it can’t hap­pen. We’ve got to limit the neg­a­tive plays.

“They’re get­ting out of con­trol. The turnovers are on me be­cause, ob­vi­ously, I’m not do­ing a good job in prac­tice. We had three last week, and five tonight. Bad foot­ball teams lose games when they turn the ball over. It’s in­ex­cus­able, hon­estly.”

Ho­gan and the Lions had ev­ery rea­son to be dis­ap­pointed with the out­come.

O’Hara out­gained McDevitt on of­fense, 214-124. The Lions had no prob­lem mov­ing the chains, ei­ther, rack­ing up 17 first downs. And the O’Hara de­fense stymied McDevitt tail­back JonLuke Peaker, hold­ing one of the Catholic League’s top ball­car­ri­ers to a pal­try 32 yards on the ground.

And they had mo­men­tum, too, us­ing a 32-yard touch­down sprint from Taseer Jones to trim McDevitt’s lead to 10-7 late in the third quar­ter.

It wasn’t un­til Fowler sacked O’Hara quar­ter­back Luke Sprague twice on the Lions’ fi­nal pos­ses­sion, forc­ing them to turn it over on downs with 14 sec­onds to play, that McDevitt could fi­nally ex­hale and cel­e­brate its first win over O’Hara since, uhh… “Prob­a­bly a cou­ple years,” Rice said. “Prob­a­bly a hun­dred years,” Watkins added.

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