Ea­gles down Tro­jans to im­prove to 2-0

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS - By DEN­NIS C. WAY

LOWER GWYNEDD — Last week, in break­ing their 18-game los­ing streak, the Ea­gles of Nor­ris­town High showed off their of­fen­sive skills in a 22-point win over Up­per Me­rion.

Fri­day night, in Game Two of their sea­son at Wis­sahickon High School, the Ea­gles showed they could play some de­fense, too.

In fact, both touch­downs in Nor­ris­town’s 14-13 squeaker over host Wis­sahickon came via the de­fense.

Joe Cross scored on a first-half fum­ble re­turn and Isa­iah Sa­muel on a sec­ond-half in­ter­cep­tion re­turn as the sur­pris­ing Ea­gles made it two straight.

“It was fun,” said a smil­ing Ja­son Powel, the first-year head coach of the Ea­gles after the team won its sec­ond game of the year for the first time since the 2011 sea­son. “We knew it was go­ing to be tough be­cause Wis­sahickon’s line on both sides of the ball gets off the ball so quickly.

“So we told our de­fen­sive line­men the game was go­ing to come down to them. If we’d be able to hold up their of­fen­sive line so that our lineback­ers could flow to the ball, we could win.”

And through­out the first half, while hold­ing Wis­sahickon to just 24 yards of to­tal of­fense, the Ea­gles trench men were play­ing bet­ter than any­one could have ex­pected.

But down, 14-0, in the third quar­ter after Sa­muel’s in­ter­cep­tion re­turn, the Tro­jans got busy.

Wis­sahickon fi­nally got on the score­board late in the third quar­ter when Josh Smith pol­ished off a three-play, 43-yard drive with a 16-yard touch­down run.

The drive was set up when the Ea­gles were pinned deep in their own end, and a short punt put the home team in business on the plus side of the field.

Then, down 14-7, the Tro­jans looked ready to tie the game when Josh Trunk capped an eight-play, 69-yard drive with a 6-yard score with 6:15 left in the fourth. The ex­tra-point at­tempt, how­ever,

sailed wide left, and the Ea­gles still held the lead.

Early on, it was a de­fen­sive strug­gle, with nei­ther of­fense able to dent the red zone.

In fact, the lone score of the first half came by the de­fense as Nor­ris­town’s Cross, a line­backer re­cently moved to de­fen­sive tackle, pounced on a bun­gled Tro­jans ex­change near mid­field and rum­bled 52 yards to put the Ea­gles on top, 7-0, with just 10 seconds left in the first quar­ter.

Out­side of that score off a turnover, both of­fenses huffed and puffed, but could do next to noth­ing.

The Tro­jans’ deep­est pen­e­tra­tion of the half came on each of their first two pos­ses­sions when they got as far as the Nor­ris­town 43.

The Ea­gles, buoyed by a 20-yard pass play from quar­ter­back Bren­dan Gorski to Tyree Perry, got as far as the Wis­sahickon 33 be­fore the Tro­jans rose up to hold them there.

At the break, Nor­ris­town run­ning back Corey Daven­port had 56 yards rush­ing, but Nor­ris­town was do­ing very lit­tle of­fen­sively.

“The of­fense wasn’t click­ing tonight,” Powel said. “(Wis­sahickon) is just as quick off the ball de­fen­sively, and we strug­gled. We showed flashes, but we weren’t con­sis­tent.”

Early in the third quar­ter, the Ea­gles dou­bled their lead after an ex­change of turnovers.

Wis­sahickon’s Shawn Gil­man put an end to the Ea­gles open­ing drive of the sec­ond half with a leap­ing in­ter­cep­tion at the Tro­jans 14.

But after a pair of penal­ties backed the Tro­jans of­fense back inside its own 10-yard line, quar­ter­back Michael Marino was in­ter­cepted by Sa­muel, who sashayed into the end zone to put the Ea­gles in the lead, 14-0.

“We spent a lot of prac­tice time this week on de­fense,” Sa­muel said. “We prac­ticed against all of their for­ma­tions.

“On the in­ter­cep­tion, they were in trips, and one of our guys de­flected the pass and it went right to me and I was able to get it in.”

Still, after the Smith touch­down, the Tro­jans were back in the game. And when Trunk scored with 6:15 left, the Ea­gles could eas­ily have folded. In­stead, they got bolder. Hold­ing that one point lead, the Ea­gles went for a fourth-and-short at their own 44 on the en­su­ing se­ries.

“I told our guys when it’s fourth and short like that, I’m go­ing to show you that I trust you to get that yard,” Powel said. “And if it doesn’t hap­pen, we have to be ready to play hard on the next play.”

After get­ting the ball back in Nor­ris­town ter­ri­tory, the Tro­jans could not man­age a first down and were halted when Marino’s fourth-and-nine pass fell in­com­plete.

The Tro­jans got the ball back one more time, at their own 25 with 65 seconds to play and with no time­outs.

Four in­com­plete passes later, Nor­ris­town had the nail-bit­ing vic­tory.

“It felt great,” Sa­muel said of the Ea­gles’ sec­ond win in as many tries. “It’s amaz­ing the way our coaches have got­ten us to­gether so fast .

“And we’re re­ally to­gether.”

Adri­anna Hoff/Times Her­ald Staff

Nor­ris­town’s Der­ick Cross runs the ball dur­ing Fri­day’s win over Wis­sahickon.

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