Upper Moreland topples Vikings
The Upper Merion High football team believes it is getting closer to ending the team’s current losing streak.
The Vikings also know they are not there yet.
Upper Merion forced visiting Upper Moreland into four turnovers Friday night, but only turned one of the gifts into points. The Vikings turned the ball over twice during the game themselves, both resulting in quick touchdowns for the Golden Bears.
Such is life when a team is struggling to win a game, any game.
Upper Merion extended its losing streak to 25 games Friday night as Upper Moreland defeated the Vikings, 35-20.
“They all know the number,” Upper Merion coach Harold Smith said. “We’re not going to act like it doesn’t exist. They want to be the ones who end the streak. That’s what they’re dedicated to.
“They’re working together and they’re playing hard and it will turn around.”
The Vikings started the season with a developing quarterback in Carmen Fortino, but Fortino was injured during the second half of the Norristown game last weekend. He did not practice all week and was not in uniform Friday night. The signalcalling went to Bobby Landmesser. The senior completed eight passes for 108 yards on the night, ran the offense well and connected with Connor McGrath on a 27-yard scoring strike on his finDO WKURw RI WKH nLJKW.
The bulk of the offense, however, came from running back Hassan Gardner, who ran 28 times for 134 yDUGV DnG D VFRUH. ,n WKH fiUVW half, Gardner got the touch on every designed running play, rushing 12 times. He amassed 82 of the team’s 89 fiUVW-KDOI yDUGV RI RIIHnVH.
“We just have to keep working hard,” Gardner said. “We have to dig deep. We had some players down, but we need to dig down and stay together.
“The offense was getting better. (The injuries) pushed us back some. We have to come back next week and be ready.”
Both teams were working with depleted rosters. Upper Moreland (3-2 overall, 1-1 Suburban One American Conference) was missing several players, as well. The Bears came out and scored Rn WKHLU fiUVW SRVVHVVLRn RI the night, and also on two straight series to open the second quarter.
After the Upper Moreland defense pulled down its second interception during the Vikings’ opening drive of the second half, the Bears again scored in a hurry and had built a 28-7 cushion.
“That was real big, scoring early, and also to do it in the second half,” Upper Moreland coach Dave Heying said. “:H VWRSSHG WKHP Rn WKH fiUVW drive and then we scored. I was real happy with that.”
Still, Heying recognized the mistakes the Bears made, throwing two picks themselves – including one as the team was going in for a score on the one-yard line – and fumbling the ball away twice in the fourth quarter.
“We still scored 35 points, but we had (four) turnovers DnG wH PLVVHG D fiHOG JRDO,” Heying said. “Imagine what it could have been.”
Charlie Hooker threw for 96 yDUGV, DOO Ln WKH fiUVW KDOI, for Upper Moreland. Robert Knox had two big runs during the game, including a 41-yard VFDPSHU Rn WKH fiUVW SODy IURP VFULPPDJH, DnG finLVKHG wLWK 118 yards on the ground.
Knox’s run set up a one-yard dive from Vince Cardelli to open the scoring. The Vikings UHVSRnGHG wLWK D VKRUW-fiHOG GULYH RI VLx SODyV Rn WKHLU fiUVW possession, set up by Jequan Mitchell’s kickoff return and capped when Gardner went in from the 16 to tie the game.
Upper Moreland, which has now won seven straight against the Vikings, regained the lead early in the second quarter, Jayvohn McCown going 21 yards on the ground. Tyler Whitmore made it a 21-7 game in the fiUVW KDOI. CDUGHOOL KDG LW WR 28-7 early in the third with another one-yard score.
Following a recovered fumble, Upper Merion went GRwn WKH fiHOG Rn WKH Uunning of Gardner and a 39yard connection between Landmesser and Evon DixRn, 0LWFKHOO WDNLnJ LW WKH final yard for 28-14.
Hooker ran a bootleg for the BHDUV’ finDO VFRUH EHIRUH LDnGmesser and McGrath hooked up with 26 seconds to play.
“Right now, we are still WUyLnJ WR finG RuU wDy DnG WUyLnJ WR finG KRw WR wLn,” Smith said, his team 0-5 and 0-2 in the league. “Once we do, I think it’s going to click. They’re resilient kids.
“We came out, competed, just came out on the short end.”
It has happened that way 25 times in a row now. But the Vikings are certain they are improving, they are moving closer to ending the streak.
“We believe in each other more and more each game,” Gardner said. “We think we can do it.”
They feel they are close, but they know it will take another week.