Turnovers spark S-F over Methacton
Don’t dare try to underestimate the value of turnovers to Mason Romano.
A defensive end a year ago when he enjoyed the freedom of a run-at-’em and wreck-’em approach, the Spring-Ford junior has moved inside to tackle and adapted well to his new responsibilities ... jamming it up and creating big plays, among them.
So with the Rams clinging to a narrow 10-7 lead halfway through the third quarter of Saturday afternoon’s Pioneer Athletic Conference game with stubborn Methacton, Romano didn’t just come up with one big play, but two of them.
When teammate wameer McDowell deflected a Methacton pass at the line, Romano was there to pull it in. Two snaps later, touchdown. Then, one play after the ensuing kickoff Methacton fumbled, and Romano was there to pounce on it. Seven plays later, touchdown.
And, for all intents and purposes, game.
The Rams added another score in the fourth quarter and rolled up what would seem to be a rather one-sided 31-7 Homecoming win. But it was anything but until Romano’s momentum-changing — and game-changing — plays on the defensive side of the ball.
“When we make a big play, like that interception (and fumble recovery), the whole team gets pumped up,” said Romano, an undersized but tenacious 6-foot, 210-pound junior. “Some days it’s the offense that picks us up, some days it’s the defense.”
This time, despite quarterback Hank Coyne’s three touchdown passes and the running tandem of vousef Lundi (109 yards) and Tate Carter (54 yards, 1 TD), it was indeed defense for Spring-Ford, which improved to 4-1 (6-1 overall).
The Warriors would use quarterback Brandon Bossard’s 66-yard run on the third play of the game to set up Dillen White’s three-yard touchdown on the following play. Combined with Jose Holland’s placement, it gave them a 7-0 lead just 1:41 in. But their three other firsthalf possessions produced just 38 net yards as the Warriors advanced the chains just once.
Spring-Ford, meanwhile, got back to even when Coyne (17 of 22 for 166 yards) found McDowell in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown toss. The hosts then went in front when David Gulati converted a 31yard field goal.
But a three-point lead wasn’t anything to shout about.
“We came out in the second half and go three-andout,” Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. “But then our defense set us up to give us a little cushion.”
The defense, or Romano to be specific, set them up with those two turnovers.
“We seem to struggle if there is a lot of green (field) in front of us,” Brubaker said. “We don’t have that breakaway speed (with standout tailback Jarred Jones sidelined with a broken wrist).
“But getting two short fields like we did can make all the difference in the world. That’s a momentum shift for sure. It puts (the opponent’s) backs against the wall.” It did on Saturday. “I give a lot of credit to our own defense for keeping it 10-7 at the half,” said Methacton coach Paul
com Playing the new brand of Germantown Academy football under first year head coach Matt Dence has helped the Patriots equal the amount of wins from last season (three) in the first four weeks of action this season. However, on Saturday Malvern Prep was able to get the Patriots away from their game plan and it resulted in a 24-7 loss, the second of the season.
The Friars (4-2) found the end zone on the opening drive and in order to rally back the Patriots (3-2) tried to play an up-tempo style of offense, something they assumed their Inter-Ac foe would not be prepared to defend. However the fast pace air attack was not something the offense was completely comfortable with and it resulted in five turnovers.
“Put the turnovers on me,” coach Dence said. “We wanted to go up-tempo to make them adjust and because of that I don’t think Hayes (Nolte) felt comfortable with some of his reads. He is a heck of a quarterback and those turnovers are on me.”
As senior wide receiver Joe Taylor jogged outside of the hashes and placed his toe on the line of scrimmage he gave one quick glance into his junior quarterback Hayes Nolte. While the running game was effective in spurts, the passand-catch tandem knew they needed to make some noise if they were going to rally from a 14-0 halftime deficit.
“The ground game was not getting the big chunks of yards that we needed,” Taylor said. “We had to go to the air, but time ran out. I trust Hayes can get me the ball in any spot.”
Taylor sat down in open space against the Friars’ zone defense and reeled in four catches for 52 yards. However the Friars were not always playing the same scheme and it forced a handful of incompletions and three interceptions. The Friars’ senior Joe Carlini had two interceptions and Eric Purnell came away with the clincher in the final seconds of play on pass just out of the reach of Taylor.
Nolte finished 13-of-32 for 126 yards. Robert Gorman scored on the opening drive of the third quarter after the Friars fumbled the opening kick on their own 26 yard line. The Patriots looked to decrease the Friars’ lead to one a score game early in the fourth quarter, but the Patriots fumbled on the one yard line and the Friars’ Hunter Paulus recovered in the end zone for the touchback.
After the untimely turnover the Friars used their deceptive Wing-T offense to drive 80 yards for the final points of the afternoon. It was Connor Bohs one yard run that sealed the win. Bohs had 109 of the Friars 251 rushing yards.
“We really wanted to get off to a good start because they are a team that wants to get out ahead and control the clock,” Dence said. “The Wing-T has become one of those offenses that only a handful of teams run and run well. They did a really good job disguising it, but I am proud of our kids. We fought hard.” Lepre. “Our defense was on the field for a long time, but did a good job keeping us in (the game). Then in the second half we didn’t generate much offense, and the two turnovers gave (SpringFord) the short fields. vou just can’t do that.”
The Rams actually went three-and-out on their first two possessions of the second half. But McDowell deflected Bossard’s pass into Romano’s hands and he returned it 11 yards to the Warriors’ 27. Lundi took a handoff nine yards, then Coyne found Gary Hopkins in the right corner of the end zone from 18 yards out with 5:28 left in the third quarter. Methacton took over following the kickoff on its own 36, but fumbled on first down and Romano recovered back at the 21. Coyne sneaked for three to convert a fourth-and-inches dilemma, then Carter took three straight handoffs — the last one covering a yard for six points and a 24-7 lead with 2:20 left in the third quarter.
“We were worried about Bossard,” Romano said. “We were worried about his speed, about him getting outside.”
Bossard, who was pressured and hurried (and sacked four times) that translated into a 5-for-19 afternoon, was certainly on the run a good part of the day. He took 15 snaps himself for 105 of the Warriors’ 139 yards on the ground. But his team simply couldn’t execute what it set out to do against the Spring-Ford defense.
“(Spring-Ford’s defense) did a great job taking away what we game-planned for,” Lepre said. “We tried to make something happen.
“We went in with three double-tight (end) packages, but we weren’t getting any push, weren’t getting any blocks. It just didn’t work out. We had to stay the course, but (Spring-Ford) took it away from us. And you have to give them credit because their strength is usually their offense.”
The offense — which capped the scoring on Coyne’s 22-yard pass to Hopkins at the 9:53 mark of the fourth quarter. — did just fine.
Methacton’s Brandon Bossard runs for a long gain setting up the Warriors’ touchdown during Saturday’s Pioneer Conference game against Spring-Ford.