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LaSalle beats Nazareth in Air Raid

Written by: on Sunday, December 4th, 2011. Follow Armand Vanore on Twitter.


Bethlehem, Pa., Tim Wade’s 56 yard touchdown run on a daring fourth and one deep into the final stanza proved to be the difference in the LaSalle Explorers 41-33 thriller over the Nazareth Area Blue Eagles in a AAAA state playoff game at Frank Banko Field in Bethlehem. This game was loaded with big plays which gave each team’s defensive coordinator’s nightmares.

On this day Wade needed whatever blocking he could get because the Blue Eagles were running up big numbers themselves. Nazareth quarterback Dan Harding has a big time arm and his quick three step drop deliveries combined with coach Rob Melosky’s no huddle scheme kept LaSalle on their heels all afternoon.

Photo provided by Gary Johnson of Front Row Photo

The Explorers looked to take control early when quarterback Matt Magarity hit John Palermo for an 18 yard TD strike on their first offensive series. LaSalle then recovered a Nazareth fumble on their first play but Wade gave the ball right back to the Eagles when he fumbled on his next carry. Harding and company then went nine plays and he hit freshman sensation RB Jordan Gray with a 10 yard TD toss which tied the game at seven.

LaSalle scored touchdowns on their next two series and it appeared for a while that they were going to put on a clinic. Jared Herrmann’s one yard plunge followed by a Magarity pitch and catch to Wade for a 26 yard score put the Explores up by 14.

After another Magarity to Wade 47 yard touchdown pass (this one down the middle of the field to a wide open Wade), gave the Explorers a 35-21 lead they had a chance to put the game away on their next series but Magarity overthrew Casey Eidenshink, which would have been a certain 64 yard touchdown pass. At that point the Eagles made it a point to take advantage of the miscue and controlled the pace of the game for the next twelve minutes. They went on seven and 15 play drives, each producing touchdowns. Gray accounted for 50 of the yards on the longer drive and after Adam Bridgeforth’s  six yard touchdown on a reverse the Eagles suddenly had momentum and were down 35-33.

The stage was then set for Wade’s huge run. Facing third and 17 from their own 28 on their next possession, Magarity got the Explorers close to a first down with a 16 yard toss to Mike Piscopo putting the ball on the Explorer 44. That’s when LaSalle coach Drew Gordon decided to roll the dice and put the ball in Wade’s hands to settle things. After Wade’s TD they failed to convert the extra point and held an eight point lead putting the ball in Harding’s hands one last time and a chance for a tie.

With four minutes and change left in the fourth quarter, Nazareth moved the ball from their own 29 to LaSalle’s 36. Harding’s last pass was then picked off by Jimmy Herron ending any chance for a Blue Eagle comeback.

Wade was modest when asked about the most important carry in his Explorer career: “We needed a yard and Connor (Kerrigan), Pat (Hoffman) and Dan (Wasylenko) gave me a cushion and then I saw daylight” said Wade on the play that earned LaSalle their third straight trip to the AAAA eastern final. “I like working with the guys up front. I rely on them all the time.”

Gordon appeared relieved when the game ended.” We felt coming in that we could put some points up but we needed a lot because of the effectiveness of Nazareth’s no huddle scheme. The last time we faced this type of offense was when we played Bergan (New Jersey powerhouse back in week 2). I’m glad we were able to get yards especially in the air. We needed everything we could get”.

The AAAA District 12 champs now move on to face District 1 champ North Penn next week for the right to represent the east in Hershey the following week. The Explorers defeated North Penn in a classic showcase game 44-27 back in week one. Gordon saw them dismantle Council Rock South the night before and came away impressed. “The North Penn team I saw last night is not the same team we played at the beginning of the year. We are going to have our hands full”. Nazareth (District 11 champs) ends their magical season at 12-2 and gave the folks in the Lehigh Valley a lot to remember with their high flying offense.

Notes: Wade had 18 carries for 104 yards and 5 catches for 131 yards. Gray had 133 yards on 21 totes. Sean Burke had a ton of tackles for LaSalle. Harding was 26 of 39 for 276 yards.  Magarity was 15-21 for 280. Chris Rocco provided excellent coverage in the defensive backfield and almost made a sensation diving interception late in the game.


Scoring By Quarters

1st Quarter

LS: John Palermo: 18 yard pass from Matt Magarity: PAT: Ryan Winslow: 7:53
NA: Jordan Gray: 10 yard pass from Dan Harding: PAT: Jack Portnoy: 4:51

LS: Jared Herrmann: 1 yard run: PAT: Ryan Winslow: 1:58


2nd Quarter

LS: Tim Wade: 26 yard pass from Matt Magarity: PAT: Ryan Winslow: 10:17

NA: Dan Harding: 1 yard run: PAT: Jack Portnoy: 7:30

NA: Dan Harding: 2 yard run : PAT: No good: 3:19

LS: Chris Kane: recovered fumble in end zone: PAT: Ryan Winslow: 1:10


3rd Quarter

LS: Tim Wade: 47 yard pass from matt Magarity: PAT: Ryan Winslow: 9:01

NA: Andrew Bridgeforth: 4 yard run: 2 Pt conversion no good: 1:45


4th Quarter

NA: Adam Bridgeforth: 6 yard run: PAT: Jack Portnoy: 6:01

LS: Tim Wade: 56 yard run: PAT no good: 4:28

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Leave a Reply

12 Responses to “LaSalle beats Nazareth in Air Raid”

  1. eastbetterthanwest says:

    Open enrollment? So in other words the kids
    can go where they want? Versus a place like Chester county where you go to school where you live? Yeah that’s a fair system lol.

  2. PCLFan says:

    LaSalle’s line this year is the best over the past 3 years. Last years defense was the best of that period and 2009 it was the offense. They always seem to find a way.

    Now for you LaSalle haters you can look forward to next year. On Saturday LaSalle played a freshman, 2 sophomores and 2 juniors in the secondary. They also won without their best player on Coleman who got hurt early and they have a freshman running back who will be the best around for the next three years. These guys are all back. They lose Wade but will just be loaded.

  3. gasdoc says:

    I have to confirm. No recruiting for the football team. Most kids go there because they want to. Also remember the Lacrosse team is top notch and many of these kids are crossover players that don’t even consider football their first sport. LaSalle doesn’t get to title game last year without Forster stepping in for Magarity. Now he’s at Maryland playing lacrosse. Coleman….Harvard for lacrosse…Rocco- lacrosse player. LaSalle’s biggest question mark prior to the season was their “inexperienced” lines with only Maginnis a returning starter on either side of ball. The question was answered….Kern 1st team PCL DL, Wasylenko 1st Team OL…Maginnis and Kerrigan 2nd team OL… Spiteri 2nd team OL and DL….That’s why Wade had a great year and they keep on winning. Stop the recruiting nonsense. Good kids, good players, good coaching, GREAT TEAM.

  4. Jake says:

    @ Big Pat: Do some research genius before making your inaccurate statements. LaSalle is a PREP school. Anybody that passes the test, gets accepted and can afford to pay gets in. Approx 900 8th graders were @ LS on Sat taking the entrance exam for approx 285 openings. Is that recruiting? Please somebody who is the parent of a current 8th grade football player come forward and give us the name of a LS coach who has approached you or your sons. Guarantee there will be no takers because it doesn’t happen. Doesn’t need to happen as far as LS is concerned. Kids are seeking them out. Now Wood on the other hand…

  5. paul from philly says:

    I don’t understand the “recruiting” issue. I can show you a list of the players for La Salle. Most of them are legacies and for example, probably the best player on the team, Tim Wade, is the nephew of the offensive coordinator. I ask you, where else is he gonna go. It’s open enrollment, not recruiting. If they’re recruiting, they aren’t doing a very good job. Not one La Salle player has gone on to D-1 programs in the last three years. I’m not talking about Villanova or Franklin and Marshall. I’m talking D-1.

  6. Big Pat says:

    LaSalle and N.P. will be a classic, but I strongly believe that LaSalle recruits players. If other Philly Catholic Schools are doing it…LaSalle is too.

  7. andanotherthing says:

    Why must the recruiting charge always be inserted into this??? There are no D1 recruits in the LaSalle team period…. They have a program that starts and ends with the coaching. Players want to go to a school with a winning football program evidenced by 70+ players on the freshman team this year. No need to recruit unless you consider winning – recruiting.

  8. eastbetterthanwest says:

    Is it really impressive that a team that recruits is always playing for a state title? I think not. Pa needs a catholic league classification and soon!

  9. PCLFan says:

    Armand Roco did make a great in interception but the officials missed another one.

  10. Jerry says:

    I am a LVC guy who loves football. Beautiful day and atmosphere at this game! I am always objective, especially when it comes to HS kids, yes they are kids. Both teams fought very hard for 48 minutes, wish some local pro team would watch this film and learn about effort. The officials did appear to have a rough day on 4 or 5 calls. I say bring in college crews to alleviate any concerns about favoritism and such. What does PIAA do with all the money raised in these games? Big party in Hershey for admins? Anyway, #30 on LS is a good player and 33 was a beast all day. Got my money s worth for sure. For Nazareth, you represented us well!

  11. Red says:

    Way to go La Salle. The officiating at this game was appalling. I’m not even saying that because I am biased to La Salle because I am an alum. I’m saying this because that issue needs to be addressed. I knew the officiating was going to be one-sided, but I was actually embarrassed as to how blatant it was. Those refs were not even trying to hide the fact that they were making bad calls/spots/missing calls.

    @The LVC:
    It’s called sportsmanship gentlemen. Melosky should be ashamed to allow those referees to keep Nazareth in this game. Nazareth should have scored 14 points max. But, whatever, when it’s all said and done, La Salle played a great game, beating Nazareth and the referees. Keep it up boys, it’s time to show North Penn who the big dogs are now. Also, it would be a great early Christmas present to myself, and the rest of the La Salle community to see Beck crying again.

  12. edsel says:

    Great game… worth the trip. Two great teams and a wonderful saturday weather wise!