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Football: Lions Run BAL Table on Senior Night

Written by: on Friday, October 28th, 2016. Follow Don Leypoldt on Twitter.


To Run in the November 3rd Bucks County Herald

New Hope-Solebury touchdown. Delco Christian fumble.

New Hope-Solebury touchdown. Delco Christian fumble.

New Hope-Solebury touchdown. Delco Christian fumble.

New Hope-Solebury touchdown.


donweek92016That lead will never win a literary prize, but it was the perfect synopsis of Friday’s second half. The New Hope-Solebury Lions (8-1, 6-0 Bicentennial) scored on all four second half possessions in their 42-14 Senior Night win against Delco Christian. The last three Lion touchdowns came off of Knight (3-6, 2-4 Bicentennial) fumbles.

It was the Lions, however, who coughed the ball up on their first two possessions. Jalen Mitchell’s 12-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter gave the Knights a 6-0 lead.

“We started slow,” admitted New Hope-Solebury coach Jim DiTulio. “I told the guys to shake it off.

New Hope-Solebury answered on an eight play, 52-yard drive that ended on Jack McKenna’s four-yard touchdown run. The Lions struck again late in the second quarter when quarterback Nick Garritano hit Morgan Shadle on a 60-yard touchdown bomb.

“We definitely spread the ball and got our receivers open,” said wide receiver and cornerback Andrew Whelan, who was one of six Lions to catch a pass. “We locked on the edge. I always go in motion and chip the guy. It opens up the post and lets receivers make a big play.”

“We knew we’d be able to throw the ball tonight,” DiTulio said. “We noticed some matchup problems. They were keying on McKenna, who is having a heck of a year, so when we went to rollouts, the underneath stuff was there. We started to pick away at that and springing Nick out is when we hit Morgan Shadle.”

Garritano completed 11-of-14 passes for 206 yards, and went over 1,000 yards passing on the season.

The Lions got the ball to start the second half; Jesse Capriotti’s 23-yard sweep made the game 21-6. Lion lineman Matt Fest pounced on a loose Delco Christian ball on the Knights’ third play of the half. It was the first of three straight Knight drives that ended in New Hope-Solebury fumble recoveries.

“During practice, we didn’t look for the ball at all,” said defensive end Marcus Hems, who forced a fumble. “You just tackle the man who you are supposed to tackle. You play assignments and disciplined defense. That’s what we did in the second quarter onward.”

New Hope-Solebury held the Knights’ complicated wing-T in check. Delco Christian ran for just 3.6 yards per carry, and none of their 52 rushes went for over 21 yards.

“Towards the middle of the second quarter, we had the D tackles take out their guard and tackle,” said Fest. “The nose was one on one with the center and middle linebacker Brendan Shadle was able to come up and make plays without getting down blocked.”

With the ball back, McKenna raced 65 yards for a touchdown, on a broken field run where he covered 90 yards. “We stopped playing terribly,” assessed McKenna, whose 105 yards on eight carries led all rushers. “We stopped getting penalties, I stopped fumbling and after that, we felt they couldn’t stop us.”

The run put New Hope-Solebury up 28-6, a lead extended to 35-6 two and half minutes later when Garritano hit Shadle on a 30-yard fourth down crossing pattern for a touchdown.

Early in the fourth quarter, New Hope-Solebury capped their scoring when Fest scored from 15 yards out on a tackle eligible. Delco Christian’s Na-im Robinson scored on a one yard touchdown run in the game’s final minute.

Mitchell’s 69 yards on 14 carries paced Delco Christian. Garritano added 65 yards on the ground.

The conference champion Lions outscored their Bicentennial opponents 234-67 this year. New Hope-Solebury feted their seniors- McKenna, Fest, Hems, Whelan and Brendan Shadle-at halftime in a game in which the Lions outpointed even Mother Nature, and her 38 degree temperature at game’s end.

The win also avenged 2015 when Delco Christian’s 41-17 win gave the Knights the Bicentennial title and ruined New Hope-Solebury’s undefeated season.

“Defensively, we didn’t execute last year,” assessed Brendan Shadle. “This year, we knew what to do and took advantage of it.”

The Lions will like play District 12’s Delaware Valley Charter on November 11, with the winner qualifying for the 3A state playoffs.

“We’re going to get healthy,” said DiTulio. “We’re going to work hard, practice and work on our academics as well. We’ll be ready to go. We’ll be prepared.”

But first, Friday was a night for the Lion seniors to savor. “This means a lot,” said Brendan Shadle. “I didn’t do that much but my brother did a lot for the team. If I’m not performing like I should, the others around me are. It was a memorable night.”

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