PJP escapes Phoenixville 34-31 in OT
It’s become a drill that has been practiced repeatedly at Pope John Paul II.
Thursday night, the scramble drill saved their perfect season.
Down 31-28 in overtime to Phoenixville, CJ McCafferty became the hero as he recognized the pocket collapsing on Matt DeLaurentis before booking along the same sideline as the rolling out senior quarterback. Their eyes met, the ball was thrown, the perfect season lived on as McCafferty’s touchdown catch along the goalline propelled the Golden Panthers to a 34-31 overtime victory over visiting Phoenixville in PJP’s “Legacy Game” held at Conshohocken’s “A” Field.
“It’s great,” McCafferty said moments after getting piled on by a jubilant PJP team. “We work on the scramble drill every practice.”
Played at Conshohocken’s “A” Field, the “Legacy Game” was scheduled to commemorate all of PJPs’ legacy schools and alums from Saint Matthews (Conshohocken), St. Patricks (Norristown), Archbishop Kennedy (Conshohocken), Bishop Kenrick (Norristown), Kennedy-Kenrick and Saint Pius X.
McCafferty’s game-winning touchdown cemented a contest that was befitting of the game’s title.
Phoenixville, led by the play of quarterback Connor Patania (12-for-24, 251 yards and three touchdowns) and receivers Zion Small (four receptions for 94 yards and three touchdowns) and Dorian County (three receptions for 91 yards) fought all the way back from a 21-0 thirdquarter deficit with a thrilling fourth-quarter finish. Down 28-14 in the fourth, Patania kick-started the comeback with a dazzling 52-yard pass to Small down the middle of the field for the score that was set up by a PJP roughing the kicker on a Phoenixville fourthand-a-mile. Withstanding a PJP drive that included two DeLaurentis thirddown completions to McCafferty, Phoenixville held strong on fourth down in their own territory to take over at their own 37 with 1:32 left. From there, it got wild. Alex Washington (nine carries for 47 yards) started the drive with a 12-yard run for a first down before Patania connected with County, who somehow managed to come down with the pass amid double coverage for a 39-yard gain to PJP’s 12. Two incompletions were offset by a Patania 8-yard run to the PJP 4-yard line before he hit Small for a 4-yard score on fourth down to tie it 28-28 with less than 30 seconds remaining.
Nick Sinapius, 4-for-4 for PATs, kicked a 27-yard field goal to open the overtime session. It just wasn’t enough for a Phantoms squad that is still looking for their first win. Still, though, head coach Evan Briesblatt was over the moon with his team’s performance.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “They’ve gone beyond my expectations. They have so much heart, so much pride. They played their hearts out tonight.
“They’re (PJP) a heck of a football team and it was a heck of a battle. It always is, I don’t care what the records are. Zion, unbelievable, Bobby (Strunk) coming back was a differencemaker. Connor (Patania) showed how much he’s grown up. It was just awesome. I love my kids, I love coaching here and it’s a shame that we lost this one.”
PJP’s AJ Natale rushed for a game-high 137 yards on 28 carries and two scores, his first coming early in the second quarter on a 11-yard run up the gut to make it 14-0. He added his second score in the third quarter, his ability to reach the ball across the goal line after an incredible second effort giving PJP a 21-0 lead. His play was matched by Dan Cirino (one touchdown), Ricky Bearden (four receptions for 64 yards and a score) and McCafferty (five receptions for 72 yards).
PJP quarterback DeLaurentis finished 12-for-25 for 189 yards, three touchdowns, and more importantly, his team received another win.
“We always know this is going to be a good game, especially the past few years where this has become a bit of a rivalry,” DeLaurentis said. “Coming in, we couldn’t go by their record. We had to play our game and we had to execute.
“Coming froma couple of seasons where we haven’t been able towin thatmuch, doing this especially in our senior year is a great feel- ing for us.”
Spring-Ford 43, Methacton 7
TJ Pergine and the rest of the Spring-Ford Rams didn’t want to hear about next week’s matchup with Perkiomen Valley heading into their Friday matchup with Methacton.
The Rams came out firing on all cylinders, leading to a 43-7 dismantling of the Warriors to move to 2-0 in PAC Liberty play and 4-2 overall on the year.
The senior quarterback finished his night 22-for-35 with 396 yards and three touchdowns as well as 36 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Pope John Paul II’s AJ Natale tries to avoid a Phoenixville defender on a carry Thursday.