5-0 Lions Stymie Bristol
Five games. Five wins. Five stellar performances by the New Hope-Solebury Lions (5-0) who defeated their Bicentennial League nemesis, the Bristol Warriors 25-8 on Monday night.
Bristol’s feature backs of Eric Bell and Daryl Mehn ran for nearly 300 yards in last week’s win over Calvary Christian. But the Lion D held Bristol- a team who started a 330 pound lineman- to just 65 total yards.
“They’re big, but we were faster. I like to think we were more disciplined,” said junior defensive end Marcus Hems, who had 4 ½ tackles for loss in the first half. “They can be as big as they want, but if they aren’t blocking like they are supposed to, we’re going to get through.”
“Early on, we were getting the edge so we were able to get outside, whether it was a speed sweep or a toss,” reported NH-S head coach Jim DiTulio. “We had some success and (Jack) McKenna had some really nice runs. Later on in the game, they loaded the box and started blitzing the A gaps. Sizewise, we’ll never be the bigger team but offensively, we saw some matchups that we liked.”
The game- postponed from Friday due to Hurricane Joaquin- couldn’t have started better for the Lions. In the game’s opening drive, Hems stuffed Bell for a four yard loss on third down.
On NH-S’ first offensive play, junior running back McKenna took a jet sweep 51 yards for a touchdown. McKenna scored on a similar play from 27 yards out with 5:04 left in the half to give the Lions’ a 12-0 lead.
“It was the same play and they knew what it was,” said McKenna, who finished with 87 yards on nine carries. “The line did a great job on the first touchdown. I didn’t get touched.
“On the second, I cut back and broke some tackles. The line did a nice job backside of holding them and giving me a lane.”
Bristol’s first potent threat came on the next drive, when the Warriors faced third and two at the NHS-26. Lion senior linebacker Tommy Capriotti recorded a sack, and then hit Mehn for a loss on fourth down.
The Lions went to the air to open the second half. Sophomore quarterback Nick Garritano connected with senior wide out Blake Hildebrandt on a 33 yard bomb to set up a McKenna one yard touchdown plunge. Garritano completed eight passes for 122 yards.
NH-S took advantage of a short field via a Matthew Smith punt block to post a three play scoring march one drive later. Brendan Shadle’s 10 yard run gave New Hope-Solebury a 25-0 advantage. Bell’s 18-yard run three plays later, and Mehn’s conversion, put the score at 25-8.
It’s the fifth outstanding performance for the Lions’ defense, who has yielded eight or fewer points in all five games.
“They’re working. It’s a cohesive unit and they’ve been together for a few years,” DiTulio commented. “Our defense once again played well tonight.”
“We’ve had a lot of guys come back. We know our job,” Hems echoed. “Everybody is doing what they’re supposed to.”
It is also the fourth game where the Lions scored 25 or more points. Garritano’s passing and a stable of running backs like Shadle, McKenna and Jesse Capriotti give DiTulio multiple weapons.
“Brendan is a bigger back. When he gets inside the tackles, he is great,” lauded McKenna. “Jesse is a jitterbug who can make a move, get outside and go. It keeps us fresh, having so many backs.”
To be sure, there will be things to correct as the Lions face a short week. The coaching staff was not happy with a dozen penalties and some mistakes on offense.
“We had some opportunities and didn’t capitalize,” DiTulio pointed out.
The road to the Bicentennial League title went through Bristol. The Warriors advanced to the District 1/12 title game in each of the last three years. But after Monday, the Lions remained the only unbeaten team in the BAL and that road now looks like Route 32 or Bridge Street.
“We’re really happy about a commanding victory, no disrespect to Bristol,” Hems noted about the team who felled NH-S 42-0 last year.
And it gave his Lions a commanding lead in the Bicentennial race.
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