PJP es­capes Phoenixville 34-31 in OT

The Phoenix - - SPORTS - By Sam Ste­wart sstew­art@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Sa­muel_Ste­wart7 on Twit­ter

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 back­was 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 was­matched 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.

SAM STE­WART - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Pope John Paul II’s AJ Natale tries to avoid a Phoenixville de­fender on a carry Thurs­day.

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