LaSalle Eliminates Roman as St. Joe’s Waits
Warminster, Pa., Mike Eife’s 64 yard touchdown off a Jimmy Herron screen pass opened up a close affair enabling the LaSalle Explorers to earn a 42-13 PCL, AAAA playoff win over the Roman Catholic Cahillites yesterday at William Tenant stadium. The win gives Explorer coach Drew Gordon his fifth consecutive appearance in next week’s final vs. St. Joe’s Prep.
In a game marred by 20MPH winds, the running game and short passing attack were the only luxuries that both teams could afford. LaSalle was further hampered with quarterback Chris Kane playing on a painful high ankle sprain that limited the accuracy on his throws downfield. Kane’s immobility allowed for the sophomore (Herron) to get more reps at QB.
Roman has been a very dangerous underdog playoff opponent the last few years and has some of the best offensive skill players in the state of Pennsylvania. They have the ability to score from anywhere on the field at any time.
“I thought our open field tackling was much better this week” Gordon said. “You cannot let some of those guys get in space or you’ll get killed. At times we still overran the quarterback and you can’t do that with the guy on the other side”. That other guy, Roman’s Michael Keir is blessed with very good running ability and being able to break defenses down when he gets his passing rhythm.
LaSalle struck first when Kane hit Sean Coleman in the slot for an 11 yard touchdown with four minutes left in the first quarter. Roman answered immediately on their next possession with Keir completing passes of 7,3,12,5 and finally a 24 yard touchdown pass to Pat McCourt to tie the game at 7.
After Chris Rocco returned the ensuing kickoff to the Roman 25, a Cahillite defender bit on a well executed sluggo route run by Herron. Kane’s pass to the wide open receiver in the end zone put the Explorers back on top until Keir scored two possessions later on an eight yard touchdown.
LaSalle continued their assault on their next possession before halftime with a 10 play, 91 yard drive (the key play a Herron 59 yard run out of the wildcat). When Eife scored later from the one it was beginning to appear that the game would turn into a score fest.
Both offenses stalled in the third quarter and with the wind picking up, someone needed to step up and make a play. With less than eight minutes to play and holding a 21-13 lead, Herron (operating out of the gun) then hit Eife with the perfectly timed screen which opened up a lane down the field that a truck could drive through.
Any momentum that Roman needed to muster was completely taken away with that play. The Explorer defense buckled down and sacked Keir three times on their next possession. After another Herron touchdown (this one from nine yards), Zaire Franklin put an exclamation point on the victory with a 64 yard interception return off Keir.
The win pits the Explorers (9-1) in a showdown next week vs. St. Joe’s in a widely anticipated rematch of their week seven loss (24-16) to the Hawks next Saturday. The winner gets the PCL crown and a chance to get to the concrete palace at Hershey in December.
“We took some chances on some offensive plays and at times it worked” said Gordon. “We had some trips formations which caused their defense to have an extra down lineman unaccounted for but we got some of the plays off in time with success.”
Next week expect Drew’s offensive coordinator’s son Brett to open the playbook more against one of the best athletic defensive lines in the state. Stay tuned.
Notes: Herron was all over the field on both offense and defense. He had two receptions for 34 yards, 19 carries for 144 yards, 1-1 passing for 68 yards and 3 touchdowns (1 receiving, 1 running, and 1 passing). Rocco may have separated his shoulder after a hit on a kick return. Notre Dame Commit William Fuller had several nice runs after catches and kick returns for Roman. Chris Cruz was helped off the field by the Cahillite staff after injuring his ankle on a tackle at the beginning of the fourth quarter. He had 12 tackles till that point in the game. LaSalle’s downfield blocking extended the majority of their short to intermediate offensive plays. Luke Persichetti, Conor Resch, Dave Losier, Tom Spiteri and Pat Hoffman played a near flawless game on drive and pass blocking. This group has excellent technique as well. Pat McCourt made several nice catches for Roman out of the backfield and in a wide out position.
Scoring by Quarter
LS – Sean Coleman – 11 pass from Chris Kane – (PAT – Ryan Winslow) – 4:21
R – Pat McCourt – 24 pass from Michael Keir – (PAT – Phillip Isaac) – 11:53
LS – Jim Herron – 25 pass from Kane – (PAT – Winslow) – 11:35
R – Keir – 8 run – (PAT – Blocked) – 5:56
LS – Mike Eife – 1 run – (PAT – Winslow) – :35
LS – Eife – 68 pass from Herron – (PAT – Winslow) – 7:34
LS – Herron – 9 run – (PAT – Winslow) – 3:37
LS – Zaire Franklin – 64 interception return (PAT – Winslow) – 2:03
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