Cardinals fly to Fairless Hills, down Golden Knights
In what people from around the state may view as a mild upset in the District 1 AAAA playoffs, the sixth seeded Upper Dublin Flying Cardinals downed the third seeded Golden Knights from West Chester Rustin High School. On the outside, this would be viewed as an upset due to the degree of difficulty in their schedules. Upper Dublin’s only loss was to Abington (5-5), and some of their wins were against weak competition (ex: 3-8 Hatboro-Horsham, 2-9 Upper Merion, 2-8 Wissahickon). Meanwhile, the Golden Knights’ only loss to this point was to Downingtown East (who is playing in the 4A semi finals next week).
The way that Upper Dublin moved the ball through Rustin’s defense tonight, proved that the end result of this game was not really an upset. Add on the fact that the Flying Cardinals shut out Rustin’s high powered running game the entire second half.
Things started to look like a runaway for Rustin, as Dwayne Terry Loper broke away for a 70-yard touchdown run on the Golden Knights’ first play from scrimmage. Unfortunately for the Golden Knights, their defense could not make enough plays to get off the field. For example, Upper Dublin converted a second and 14, and a third down on their first possession (a 12-play, 82-yard drive) to tie the game at 7. Key plays in the drive were John Barrett’s 16-yard reception on second and 14, Michael Cottom’s 22 yard reception, and Barrett’s 6 yard touchdown catch.
The mantra of a shootout looked to be on, as Rustin was able to answer Upper Dublin’s tying score with another. The Golden Knights had an eight-play, 66-yard drive converted into a 14-7 lead, when Evan Wlock hit his tight end Matt Hosking on a 30-yard touchdown pass on fourth down and five. Not to be outdone by Rustin, the Flying Cardinals tied the game back up at 14 (on a fourth down conversion of their own), as John Lee scampered 41 yards for a score.
Once Upper Dublin tied it back up, it looked like Rustin would pull away, as Upper Dublin could not convert a lost fumble by Loper, and Rustin took a 21-14 lead on an Evan Wlock one-yard run to cap off a 12-play, 76-yard drive. The lead was increased to 23-14 on a rare Rustin defensive stand, and a snap that went over the punter’s head. Undaunted by the miscue, the Flying Cardinals were able to cut the lead to 23-21 at half, when Kalief Lee scored from a yard out.
In the second half, Upper Dublin took a 28-23 lead on Evan Stover’s 63-yard touchdown pass to Matt Thompson. From there, they put the game away on a 13-play, 99-yard drive, capped off by the second touchdown pass from Stover to Thompson (16 yards) to go up 34-13. This drive included a conversion on third and five from their own six, and a fourth and one conversion at Rustin’s 34.
The celebration started after Upper Dublin capped off a 12-play, 73-yard drive, when Stover and Thompson connected from 21 yards out. From here, Upper Dublin’s (11-1) playoff run continues next Friday in Fairless Hills against 11-1 Pennsbury. Rustin’s season ends at 10-2.
Dwayne “Terry” Loper closed out his High School career, with 188 yards (21 carries) and a touchdown. For Upper Dublin, Ryan Stover completed 22-31 passes (291 yards, four touchdowns). Other Upper Dublin offensive standouts were: John Lee who had 126 all purpose yards (97 rushing on 8 carries, 29 receiving on 2 catches), and Matt Thompson (10 catches, 128 yards, 3 touchdowns).
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