LaSalle Rallies from 3rd quarter deficit take battle of Catholic League Powers
WARMINSTER: Prior to realignment of the Philadelphia Catholic League in 1999 from geographic division to enrollment based divisions the LaSalle Explorers and Archbishop Wood Vikings were Northern Division rivals. Since going their separate ways both programs went on to be among the best teams in the state.
On Friday night in front of capacity crowd and then some at William Tennent High School the Explorers and Vikings renew their rivals. And boy did both teams make up for lost time and gave the fans their money’s worth and then some with the Explorers rallying from a 31-14 third quarter deficit to stun the Vikings 35-31 in a battle of Catholic League Heavyweights.
“It was great especially the comeback” Explorers Coach Drew Gordon said adding there was every reason to get down but his kids didn’t.
After muffing the opening kickoff and pinning themselves at the 1 the Vikings showed that one of the best ways to contain the explosive Explorer attack is by keeping on them sideline. They certainly did by driving 99 yards on 10 plays before Jarrett McClenton raced for a 51 yard score. The Explorers responded on the ensuing drive marching 66 yards on nine plays before Jordan Meachum powered his way in from five yards out.
After both teams traded 3 and outs the Vikings and McClenton took the lead with a six play 50 yard drive that was capped a 31 yard touchdown run. But the Explorers responded with a familiar connection of QB Kyle Shurmur found his favorite target Jimmy Herron for an 8 yard strike to tie things up 17 seconds left in the half. Following a 38 yard scamper by McClenton Sr Kicker Dan McDonald was called upon to attempt to give the Vikings a halftime lead with a 49 yard that bounce off the upright before falling through to put them 17-14 heading into intermission.
Shawn Scroger, Kurt Stengel, Tom Cardzo Jack Kenney Ryan Bates Ian Frasca and Jake Cooper paved the way for McClenton to rack up 228 of his 293 rushing yards in the first half.
The Vikings used the momentum they took into the locker room at half to force the Explorers to a three and out on the opening series of the second half which turn into a 10 point when QB Anthony Russo connected with a wide open Cooper for a 30 yard touchdown. On the ensuing drive McClenton appeared to but the game out of reach of the Explorers with his 3rd rushing touchdown of the day this one from 8 yards out.
On the first play of the fourth quarter the Shurmur Herron connection struck for the second time this on covering 12 yards. On the next Explorer drive the duo again cut into the lead with a 5 yard strike that made it 31-28. On the ensuing Viking drive Meachum caused McClenton to fumble along the Explorer sideline which was recovered by Herron at Explorer 44. Following a 11 yard Shurmur pass to Meachum who else but Herron would haul in his fourth td of the game from 45 yards out and suddenly the Explorers had their first lead game at 35-31. The ensuing Vikings drive saw them to get to midfield before turning the ball over on downs to seal the win for the Explorers. Herron credited the toughness of schedule thus far this season with helping the Explorers on their comeback. “We got a bunch of playmakers on offense and the guys remain resilient the whole time and played tough the whole team played tough.” Shurmur said adding that “He’s proud to be a part of LaSalle.”
When asked about his chemistry with Herron, Shurmur responded “Jimmy makes me look good all the time …. He’s very smart and trustworthy.”
The Vikings 5-1 will look to rebound next Friday night when they travel down to Springfield to take the Lions of Cardinal O’Hara. While the Explorers schedule doesn’t get any easier as they will meet arch-rival and defending PIAA AAAA Champion Hawks of St. Joseph Prep.
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