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Bonacquisti Strikes Again Against Strath Haven

Written by: on Saturday, September 20th, 2008. Follow Billy Scully on Twitter.


            Last year the Garnet Valley Jaguars won by a large margin, a score of 42-7 in the first round of the PIAA playoffs, shocking the Strath Haven Panthers on their home turf. All preseason and leading up to this game all the Panthers talked about was that one score, 42-7. Coming into this game the 3-0 Jaguars and the 2-1 Panthers were hyped and ready to play this big rematch early in the season, just week number three. Both of these teams are well known to be a powerhouse and run the ball. The Jaguars have been crushing teams as of late, while the Panthers haven’t given up a point in the last two games. With the cool breeze on Friday night at 7:30 pm the Jaguars and Panthers were ready for this huge Central League matchup, a game in which the Panthers have been waiting to play since losing early in the playoffs last year.

            At kickoff this game certainly had a playoff atmosphere. The Jaguars received the kickoff and on their first series after nearly fumbling, the Panthers got the ball right back. Just about the entire first half of this football game was all defense. Defensive lineman, Nick Garcia, was rushing Strath Haven’s quarterback Marco Kopac all night. At one point, senior Garcia had no interest of playing football in tenth game.  Now he has become a big part of the team on defense and has received a lot of attention from colleges. Garcia said “I worked very hard during the summer and that has helped me, and it’s a big plus to come back and work your heart out.”

            With nine minutes to go in the half, the Jaguars tried a 33 yard field goal to try to take a 3-0 lead, but it was no good. Finally with 2:20 to go in the half, the Jaguars put seven points on the board thanks to a four yard touchdown run by senior fullback Jared Bonacquisti.  It was just the beginning of Bonacquisti’s night. The Jags quickly got the ball back. With under a minute to go, the Jags were in Strath Haven’s territory. With quick passing and completions by quarterback Mark McHugh, the ball was near the goal line but time ran out with some tough calls and the Jaguars went into halftime with a touchdown lead.

            Because of their conditioning, the Jaguars have been a second half team. Head coach of Garnet Valley, Mike Ricci, said “We feel like that’s one of the advantages we have with having guys going both ways as a conditioning factor, and we hope we can get better as the game goes on, and play better in the second half.”

            With the Jaguars not as tired as Strath Haven, the second half started out well with Ryan Woods intercepting the ball, but the interception was called back on a holding penalty. The Panthers took advantage of the penalty and drove down the field with Lonnie Richardson, who finished the game with 100 rushing yards, and scored with Nick DeCindis. Nick rushed in from four yards out and tied the score with 5:20 left in the third. Once the Jaguars got the ball back they started to rush the ball with Bonacquisti. From six yards out Bonacquisti pounded the ball into the end zone to give the Jaguars the lead and never looked back.

            Jared Bonacquisti said “The team as a whole played well and in the second half we just wore them down, and the offensive linemen did a great job tonight.” Quickly in the fourth quarter the Jaguars scored rushing with Bonacquisti again plowing his way four yards into the end zone to give the Jags a 21-7 lead. Bonacquisti tallied up three touchdowns along with 18 touches for nearly a hundred yards rushing to end the night.

            The defense continued to stop the Panthers. Senior linebacker Joe Lombardi sacked Strath Haven’s quarterback Marco Kopac which pushed the Panthers to a fourth and fifteen, and could not convert on a long pass down the sidelines as Garnet Valley continued to bring the heavy pressure.

            To seal the deal, Tim Keyser scored rushing in from four yards out to increase the Jags’ lead.  Final score 27-7 Garnet Valley. Winning this game certainly proves Garnet Valley can handle being in this strong well-known league. Coach Ricci said “All the teams in the Central League are good; Strath Haven came out and played well. I was just glad that when they came out and got us in a hole we bounced back and played well.”

            Next week the (2-2) Strath Haven Panthers will travel to play Haverford Township while the (4-0) Garnet Valley Jaguars continue their road trip to Conestoga, a team which has lost their past two games but they are still an elite team in the Central League. Coach Ricci commented on Conestoga and said “Conestoga’s been one of the powers in the league just like Strath Haven. We know their very athletic, their a big-play team, they play good defense, and we’re going to have to come and play better than we did this week.” Expect another tough test for Garnet Valley next week.

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