Big Ben’s Sparks South Football in Senior Night Win
For the November 11th Bucks County Herald
It’s common knowledge around the SOL Continental that the C.B. South Titans (4-6, 2-5) can score. Five times in 2010, they hung 34 points on an opponent.
And it’s common knowledge that junior Matt Johns, who completed 17 passes for 203 yards in the Titans’ 38-27 Friday Senior Night season finale win over archrival C.B. East (4-6, 3-4), use their spread option to fuel a potent passing attack. Johns finished the year with 17 touchdowns and 1,900 yards through the air.
“Their scheme is very good, but the guys running it are very good as well,” observed East coach John Donnelly. “All of their receivers catch with their hands, not body catching it. They’ve worked on that very well. And Johns’ puts the ball on the money. To add to that, they had a running game tonight.”
Senior fullback Ben Torres might have earned a guest appearance on the Myth Busters TV show. Torres carried 21 times for 148 yards and three touchdowns, showing that the Titans’ offense is far more balanced that observers might think.
“Essentially, we look to see what the defense gives us,” said South head coach Dave Rackovan. “We have a lot of respect for East’s defense. They’re a physical group.
“You have to be able to run the football. I really think the pass game set up a lot of those runs and vice versa. We look to have balance.”
Think it is a coincidence that South averaged 236 rushing yards per game in their wins…and less than half of that in their losses?
The Patriots’ defense came into South surrendering an average of just 16 points per game. Their opponents’ offense averaged 28 in the rest of their games. East held three playoff teams to their lowest point totals of the year.
For the game’s first 13 ½ minutes however, when the teams combined for six touchdowns, it looked like the defense would be thrown out the window.
East’s Sean Trymbiski returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. When East did get the ball, South DL Brian McDermott intercepted a tipped shovel pass at the CBE-33. Torres’ two yard touchdown run ended the drive.
Patriot QB Josh Bernard, who accounted for 172 yards with his arms or legs, found TE Eric Brink on a 29 yard roll out, followed by RB Nick Chilson racing 26 yards on an end around for a touchdown. But on the next play, Johns hit WR Josh Williams on a 46 yard touchdown bomb that tied the game at 14.
East RB Justyn White, who led the Patriots with 130 rushing yards, raced 78 yards for a touchdown two plays later. Johns responded by hitting WR Frank Magasich for a fourth down, six-yard touchdown pass. The missed extra point gave the Pats a 21-20 lead, which held until halftime.
When South coach Dave Rackovan’s charges came out in the second half, they traded in their fireworks for hard hats. Mixing Torres’ runs, Johns’ passes and an effective QB option where Johns’ last second pitches forced the defense to commit, the Titans assembled three drives of 11+ plays. Torres and RB Chris Veale ended all three with short touchdown runs. (The two-point tries all missed.)
Bernard’s five yard touchdown scamper brought the Patriots to within 32-27 with 8:30 left, but Torres’ third touchdown of the night iced it for South.
Senior WR Steve Oprendek, whose 39 catches on the year made him Johns’ favorite target, snagged seven passes for 80 yards to pace the Titans.
What were the coaches, both of whom completed their first year at their programs’ helm, most proud of this season?
“You’ll find this a little bit off the wall, because we’ve had some points scored against us but for the past two weeks, we’ve gotten better on defense,” noted Rackovan. “They got some touchdowns because they’re a good football team. But we were giving them up in chunks at the beginning of the year.”
The Titans’ DJ Wenzke made tackles for loss on two drives, while DB Steve Veal broke up several passes, helping to stall the East offense after the initial outpouring of points.
“The identity we’ve wanted to establish, I think we created,” Donnelly said. “We want to be a physical, tough football and I think if you were to ask the teams we played this year, they would say we’ve accomplished that much.”
An East team that put scares into North Penn and Neshaminy, both of whom are top 5 seeds in District One, did just that.
“They’ve been through a lot of adversity over the past couple of years and I told them they’re going to be champions in life,” Donnelly continued. “We weren’t champions on the football field this year, but because of their perseverance and resiliency in staying the course, we’re extremely proud of them for that.”
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