Ex­plor­ers close, but fall short

St. Joseph’s Prep ral­lies past La Salle in PCL 6A fi­nal

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - SPORTS - By Mike Cabrey [email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @mp­cabrey on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> A win over St. Joseph’s Prep was so close for the La Salle foot­ball team. But on a rainy Fri­day night, a fourth-quar­ter lead slipped away from the Ex­plor­ers.

“We had them,” La Salle ju­nior line­backer Dil­lon Trainer said. “We had them. That’s go­ing to burn for a while.”

With their de­fense keep­ing the high-scor­ing Hawks in check, the Ex­plor­ers held a 13-10 lead af­ter three quar­ters of the Philadel­phia Catholic League Class 6A fi­nal. But in the fourth, Prep sopho­more quar­ter­back Kyle McCord threw a pair of touch­down passes as the Hawks scored the fi­nal 13 points to rally past La Salle 2313 at North­east High School’s Charles Martin Memo­rial Sta­dium.

“The fact that we were right there and the fact it was re­ally in our grasps and it just kind of slipped away at the end that just, that’s the part that hurts that most,” Trainer said. “That’s proves that we can stick with these guys.”

La Salle se­nior quar­ter­back Sean Da­ley ran for and threw for a touch­down as the Ex­plor­ers closed the gap on the Hawks af­ter fall­ing 49-12 in their reg­u­larsea­son meet­ing Sept. 28. But de­spite hold­ing a Prep of­fense av­er­ag­ing 46.3 points per game to a sea­son low in scor­ing, the Hawks still earned their sixth straight win over La Salle.

“Each week we worked on some­thing to get to elim­i­nate the (37)-point deficit,” Ex­plor­ers coach John Stein­metz said. “One of the big things was spe­cial teams. They killed us last time. Our spe­cial teams were re­ally good. Our of­fense did some good things and some new things, de­fen­sively we did some things.

We changed some stuff up from what we did be­fore. They’ve just got so many weapons it’s just hard.”

McCord fin­ished with 249 yards and three touch­downs on 13-of-27 pass­ing as St. Joseph’s Prep (90) ad­vances to face ei­ther North­east or Cen­tral in the District 12-6A fi­nal Nov. 17 at North­east.

La Salle fin­ishes its sea­son 5-6 – the pro­gram’s first los­ing year since 2017. But the Ex­plor­ers fought back from a 0-3 start and with a bit­ter end at the hand of their ri­vals, the pro­gram’s re­turn­ing play­ers have plenty of off­sea­son mo­ti­va­tion.

“We’re def­i­nitely sad right now,” ju­nior de­fen­sive line­man Ryan Sav­age said. “This, com­pared to the last re­sult was def­i­nitely a lot bet­ter. We played our butts off. It just shows our im­prove­ment as a team as the year went on. But we’re com­ing next year and we’re go­ing to re­mem­ber this loss. And you’ll know it.

Daly was 9-fo-20 pass­ing for 148 yards, one touch­downs and two in­ter­cep­tions. Luke Hardy had three catches for 70 yards – 36 com­ing on his TD catch in the sec­ond quar­ter.

St. Joe’s Prep Marvin Har­ri­son Jr. had three re­cep­tions for 70 yards and a touch­down while Johnny Free­man made four catches for 68 yards and a score.

“Na­tion­ally, I think peo­ple view the PCL as the Prep’s league and we just

want to prove that that’s not the case,” Trainer said. “Team with the heart at the end of the day pulls this one out – al­ways. So no mat­ter who you’re play­ing, no mat­ter how big or small the deficit is, no mat­ter what if you’re the big­ger dog you’re go­ing to come out with a win.”

Hold­ing a 13-10 lead early in the fourth, La Salle tried a fake punt run on 4th and 7 from its own 31 but came up three yards short, giv­ing Prep the ball at the 35.

“We saw it a long time. We thought we had it and then we came in mo­tion, usu­ally that kid stays on the edge and he came in the mid­dle,” said Stein­metz the fake punt. “He kind of clogged it up a lit­tle.”

The Hawks needed just one play to take the lead for good, McCord con­nect­ing with An­thony Right­ley down the mid­dle for a 35yard touch­down with 8:58 left in the fourth.

Prep forced an Ex­plor­ers 3-and-out the next se­ries and Mar­ques Ma­son’s 19-yard punt re­turn put the Hawks on the La Salle 21 at 6:41.

Prep had two touch­downs called back due to penal­ties, but fi­nally reached the end zone with 4:03 to go when McCord hit Free­man for a two-yard TD strike. A blocked ex­tra point put the lead at 23-13.

“It’s the third year in a row, man,” said Stein­metz of La Salle fall­ing to Prep in the PCL-6A fi­nal. “Two or three, right at half­time,” We’ve just got to find a way to close a deal out.”

On its fi­nal drive, La Salle moved the ball to the Hawks 45 but turned the ball over af­ter an in­com­ple­tion

on fourth down with 1:36 left.

St. Joseph’s Prep took a 7-0 lead on a 76-yard drive book­ended by Har­ri­son Jr. catches. The sopho­more took a McCord pass 41 yards on the se­ries’ first play down to the La Salle 25. Six plays later, Har­ri­son Jr. hauled in a five-yard touch­down at 6:33 in the sec­ond quar­ter.

The Ex­plor­ers pulled level with 1:05 left in the half as Daly dropped in a 36-yard touch­down pass to Hardy on 4th-and-9.

The Hawks, how­ever, took back the lead just be­fore the break. McCord hit Ma­son for 19 yards then found Free­man for 37 to put Prep at the La Salle 8. The Hawks moved down to the three but had to set­tle for an An­to­nio Chadha 20yard field goal at 15 sec­onds.

“That was very big,” said Sav­age of the Ex­plorer de­fense’s stand. “It was a big mo­men­tum change when they got down there but we grit­ted down, we knew we had to make a stop and we did and we cap­i­tal­ized.”

La Salle went ahead 1310 on its sec­ond pos­ses­sion af­ter half­time. On a dou­ble pass, Kahlil Diar­rah hit Manny Quiles for 22 yards. Sam Brown’s jug­gling 23yard re­cep­tion on the side­line put the Ex­plor­ers at the Prep 2. Two plays later, Daly plowed in from a yard out at 5:14 in the third. A blocked ex­tra point kept the mar­gin at three.

On their next drive, the Ex­plor­ers had a 2nd-and-1 at the Hawks 32 but were stuffed for no gain on the play then pro­ceeded to lose yards the next two downs to turn the ball over to Prep.


La Salle quar­ter­back Sean Daly runs with the ball ear­lier this sea­son.

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