Hawks Nip Bucks in OT, Defensive Battle
To run in the September 6thBucks County Herald
Rob Rowan accurately summarized last Friday night.
“When you commit two turnovers, your odds of winning a football game goes down,” mused the first year CB West coach. “It’s as simple as that.”
His Bucks outgained visiting CR South by nearly 100 yards. But costly mistakes led to the Golden Hawks coming out of Doylestown with a 10-7 overtime win.
West had two interceptions to South’s zero. Both hurt. Matt Checchia snagged a pass that bounced off of a West receiver at the Hawks’ 10, killing a Bucks drive in the red zone. Checchia struck again in West’s opening second half drive, returning an interception nearly 50 yards to the Bucks’ 26. Chase Patterson plunged into the end zone from the one seven plays later.
“The only score of the game that we gave up was on a big, big turnover,” Rowan reminded. “Our defense played pretty strong all night but at some point when you turn the ball over, especially inside your red zone, it’s going to come back and get you.”
Special teams also had breakdowns. West had a field goal opportunity late in the fourth quarter and another in overtime. The first kick- a potential game winner- was blocked. The second was never attempted because of an errant snap. When South kicker Adam Keylin hit a 20-yard field goal to win it, it caused Buck fans to wonder ‘what if?’
“We just didn’t execute. We need to play better,” West’s Jake Ojert said simply.
“I think we were prepared, but we didn’t execute this week,” added Connor Levant.
Ojert had a tackle for loss and a drive ending tackle among his six stops. Levant had important two third down quarterback hurries while adding 59 yards on six touches on offense.
For the second straight week, West’s defense played exceptionally. West opened the season by shutting out Hatboro-Horsham 21-0 while limiting the Hatters to just 129 yards. The Bucks held CR South to just 212 total yards, workhorse Patterson got over half of them- 117-on 26 tough carries.
“Sound fundamentals,” Rowan credited the defense. “We communicate and make sure our eyes are in the right place and then obviously, physicality. I’m proud of the way the guys played tonight, but we didn’t execute in crucial moments and they did.”
“I think everyone gives everything we got,” Ojert added, “repping in practice and giving 100% on every play.”
West scored with 9:38 left in the fourth, when Jack Neri found tight end Luke Benson for a four yard touchdown. It capped a 12 play, 73 yard drive, highlighted when Levant converted a check down pass on fourth-and-two. Garrett Hitchens, who led West with 87 yards on 12 carries, got 27 of them on a nifty run to open the drive.
On West’s final drive in regulation, Levant carried a huge pile of players during a 19 yard run. “It comes down to everyone doing their part to make it happen,” Levant pointed out. “Just because I ran the ball, I had a good line and a good push so it’s a nice team effort there.”
Friday’s match featured one of the few Bucks County games to pair off two Power 5 signees. Syracuse-bound Benson, who caught four balls and rang up six tackles, is scheduled to face CR South tight end and Virginia Tech-commit Nick Gallo again in 2021 when the Orange to go Blacksburg.
Both West quarterbacks- Neri and Gavin Grondahl, completed five of their eight pass attempts. “They both have special skill sets,” Rowan said. “Obviously we try to craft game plans that put both guys in the right situations to make plays. They both do really, really good things and we’ll continue to build off of that.
The Bucks will travel to Quakertown next Friday while the Golden Hawks host CB South. “Coach says that the big thing we follow is to go 1-0 every day and every week,” Levant stated. “We only focus on the upcoming game.” CB West will have no problems shifting focus to a Panther team that has impressed in their first two wins.
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