LaSalle Captures Fourth Straight PCL….
LaSalle Captures Fourth Straight PCL Title in Defensive Struggle
Philadelphia, Pa., Matt Magarity connected on two key touchdown passes to Sean Coleman as the LaSalle Explorers won their fourth consecutive Philadelphia Catholic league title with a hard fought 16-6 defensive battle over Roman Catholic at Charles Martin stadium. Six Roman turnovers kept their high powered offense out of the end zone most of the evening.
The Cahillites came into the game without the services of their all catholic quarterback Michael Kier, who has experienced numbness in his throwing hand for the last two weeks. However, they didn’t miss a beat as Chris Cruz took over the controls in their 45-17 first round victory last week over St. Joe’s Prep throwing for five touchdowns and running for over 100 yards. LaSalle countered with senior running back Tim Wade who ran for 300 yards last week in their first round win over Father Judge as well as a smart, quick defense under the controls of defensive wiz, John Steinmetz.
The Explorers failed to score early in the first quarter following consecutive fumbles by Cahillite back Marcus Kelly. Ryan Winslow missed a 30 yard field goal after Kelly’s first miscue and Magarity was intercepted by Roman’s Darryl Mintz after the second one. Magarity made good on their next possession when he found Coleman streaking down the left side for a 61 yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The Cahillites could not muster much offense at all in the first half and another fumble (this one by Cruz and recovered by Sean Burke) deep into the second quarter gave the Explorers a golden opportunity with the ball on the Roman 16. LaSalle got the ball down to the Cahillite four, but Winslow missed another field goal (this one from 21).
Roman’s defense hunkered down the entire game and gave Wade very little room to produce the yardage he has been accumulating over the last two months of the season. The Explorer offensive line has been one of their strengths all season but on this night the purple and gold countered every Wade run putting multiple hats on him.
As Roman continued loading the box and not giving Wade much room to maneuver, LaSalle Offensive Coordinator Joe Wade tried a different approach by opening up the offense. On LaSalle’s second drive to open up the third quarter, Coleman scored again, this time on a 27 yard strike from Magarity. The touchdown was set up with Coleman picking up 20 yards on a well executed reverse on a play in which the Cahillites anticipated Wade getting the ball. These were key calls especially in this game where points were at a bare minimum.
Down 13-0 Roman then orchestrated a 13 play, seven minute, 72 yard drive and found pay dirt with Cruz’s nine yard strike to William Fuller. It appeared that they were finally finding their sea legs as this game approached the home stretch and down by only a score at 13-6.
There’s something to be said about the mystique of LaSalle football especially when it comes to the second half of games and players who desperately need to make plays. Year after year, every big game, someone steps up or a key adjustment is made. It has been one of the things that have made this program as successful as it has been. At the five minute mark of the fourth quarter and the ball on Roman’s 43 yard line Cruz was trying to make a play but was intercepted by Freshman Jimmy Herron, who returned the pick 46 yards to the Cahillite 10. Once again, however, Roman’s defense contained Wade on three straight running plays and forced Winslow to kick a 25 yard field goal. Finally, another Cahillite fumble by William Howell (after a completion from Cruz), killed any chance for an upset.
LaSalle boss Drew Gordon knew this would not be easy. “We just could not get much control on our offensive line tonight” said Gordon. “Their defense made things difficult for us.” Gordon also shed praise on the Roman QB. “Both of their quarterbacks are different. One throws exceptionally well (Kier) and the other can do more with his legs (Cruz). Cruz gave us much to prepare for.”
LaSalle now will await the winner of the Frankford, George Washington District 12, AAAA, Public league showdown. Roman Catholic head coach Joe McCourt had his team play explosive football all season and should have a very competitive group with guys like Kier and Fuller (both juniors) return next year.
Notes: Although Winslow missed two field goals he was sensational punting with a couple of 50 yarders that gave Roman poor field position. Wade was held to 43 yards on 21 carries. Defensive lineman Tyrone Brown and Roberto Harris-Barton made life difficult for LaSalle’s offensive line. Roman ran 63 offensive plays to LaSalle’s 43. Marcus Kelly had 75 yards on 21 carries.
Scoring By Quarter
LaSalle: Sean Coleman: 61 yard pass from Matt Magarity: PAT: Ryan Winslow: 1:07
LaSalle: Sean Coleman: 27 yard pass from Matt Magarity: PAT: Blocked: 8:18
Roman Catholic: William Fuller: 9 yard pass from Chris Cruz: PAT: Blocked: 1:45
LaSalle: 25 Yard Field Goal by Ryan Winslow: 3:32
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