LaSalle Wins the PCL with an Overtime Thriller
Plymouth Meeting, Pa., The LaSalle Explorers and St. Joe’s Prep Hawks put on a show for the ages in a tale of two halves and a very exiting first time ever overtime Explorers 28-27 victory in front of over 8,000 people at Colonial stadium in Plymouth Meeting yesterday. The win gives LaSalle the AAAA, PCL championship and salvages their only loss to the Prep back in week seven.
The Hawks came into the game undefeated and ranked second in the state by many syndicates. Their defense is their strength and they were so stingy against the run that they gave up only two rushing touchdowns all year. There were a few stars in this game but if there was one person who should get credit for putting his impact players in position to make the plays, it has to be Explorer offensive coordinator Brett Gordon. Head Coach Drew Gordon’s son is no stranger to these situations. He’s been here before many times versus some of ex Prep coach Gil Brooks best defenses in times gone by. If there was a guy who could figure out a way to exploit a chink in the Hawk defense this day, it was him.
LaSalle came into the game with quarterback Chris Kane battling a right high ankle sprain that has been nagging him since week eight. This would have normally play right into the Prep’s hand because they needed to have some kind of passing attack against a team that has been so difficult to run against. When all was said and done, the signal caller ended his day with four touchdown passes, all to stud receiver Sean Coleman, and putting the ball up 47 times, mostly connecting on short crossing routes which confused the Hawk defensive backfield all day long.
The Explorers came out immediately and took total control of the first half. They got into the Prep red zone twice in their first four possessions but normally reliable kicker Ryan Winslow missed two field goals. However on the last three possessions of the half LaSalle hit pay dirt. In a quick 90 second, four play drive Kane connected with Coleman on a 44 yard completion and finally a nine yard TD to a wide open Coleman for the first score. On St. Joe’s ensuing possession, The Explorers Andrew Carlone tipped a Chris Martin pass enabling Dave Losier to intercept on the Hawk 31. LaSalle scored again with 28 seconds left on seven plays. Gordon had Kane pass all seven times and he found Coleman again from 3 yards and a 14-0 lead going into the locker room.
The Hawks had to come out in the second half like a wounded lion and players to make plays. They got that with eight minutes left in the third quarter when Tom Levy blocked Winslow’s punt and Todd Jones recovered on the Explorer 23. Martin then went to work and hit sophomore RB Olamide Zaccheaus with a 20 yard completion to the Explorer 3. Two plays later Martin snuck in for the touchdown and now we had a game.
The Prep kept the momentum when they forced an Explorer three and out on their next possession. Starting on their 13, the Hawks then went on seven play drive with Martin and Zaccheaus connecting again on a 37 yard TD and now a game knotted at 14 and the Prep crowd in mad hysteria.
Gordon was successful most of the first half with the short crossing routes that were open. He went right back to that on the Explorers next possession with Kane connecting on six throws connecting with Jimmy Herron, Jared Herrmann and Coleman. The Kane to Coleman TD combo struck again when the two hooked up from 20 out and putting LaSalle back on top 21-14.
If LaSalle felt that they were back in the driver’s seat they were mistaken when Zaccheaus took the kickoff and went up the middle and toward the left for a sensational 90 yard touchdown and a Prep crowd that got even louder and another tie at 21.
As the fall sun was beginning to set on Colonial stadium it was soon time to realize that one of these team’s season was soon to end. St. Joe’s had a chance to pull this out in regulation when Shane Williams sacked and stripped Kane of the ball and Joe DuMond recovered on the Explorer 36 with 57 seconds left in the game. An 11 yard gain by Martin put the ball on the 25 which set up a potential game winning field goal by Prep’s Kyle Battin. Battin missed a long (40 yards) attempt and overtime loomed.
The Prep scored on the first play in overtime and their first lead when Zaccheaus took a pitch from Martin and scored on the first play. There was some confusion on the extra point try when it appeared that LaSalle encroached causing Battin to stop his follow thru prior to the kick. It sailed wide right.
On LaSalle’s first try Coleman was interfered with on a pass from Kane putting the ball on the Prep five. Kane then hit Coleman on the next play to tie the game. With the entire Explorer team kneeling, holding hands on the sideline, Winslow smashed his extra point try well over the uprights for the win and within seconds the entire team and fan base piled onto the field completing another successful title win.
Drew Gordon was obviously happy but also very impressed with what St’ Joe brought. “They were one of the best defense’s I ever seen” said Gordon. We knew coming in that they were great against the run but we saw an opportunity to hit with short passes in the middle of the field with their zone.” No doubt that was the formula for the success LaSalle had in son Brett’s magnificent game plan.
St. Joe Prep head Gabe Infante had a sensational season himself and gave the Prep fan base plenty to rave about all season. After taking over for incumbent Gil Brooks in 2010 he was immediately cast into a lame duck role with various stars leaving but built up a program in shambles to one of the most competitive, well balanced and coached teams this area has ever seen. The majority of his skill players return but with a senior laden line he should rebuild and be very much in the mix next year.
LaSalle will try for another District 12 title next week against the Public league champ Frankford. St. Joe’s will entertain Malvern on Thanksgiving.
Notes: LaSalle’s first half domination had them ahead in offensive yards 243-90 and in first downs 14-4. Prep’s John Antiskay provided some big hits from his safety position and made Coleman earn a number of his catches. Ditto for LaSalle’s Zaire Franklin who had a number of big hits. LaSalle’s Tom Spiteri had a spirited game both on the offensive and defensive line. He made a few stops while being double teamed and provided sensational pass blocking for Kane. Winslow had tremendous hang time on all his punts. He will be doing that next year at The University of Pittsburgh. Battin’s unfortunate overtime missed PAT was really a chain reaction of a majority of the line on both sides (and Battin) that thought play was stopped. Battin still had a very solid year and was responsible for a large portion of the Hawks season scoring. Some final numbers: Kane 32-47, 330 yards 4 TD’s, Coleman 13 catches, 133 yards 4 TD’s and a 48 yard run, Herron 8 catches, 107 yards. LaSalle ran 80 offensive plays to the Hawks 50
Scoring by Quarter
LS – Sean Coleman – 9 pass from Chris Kane – (PAT – Ryan Winslow) – 4:27
LS – Coleman – 3 pass from Kane – (PAT – Winslow) – :28
SJP – Chris Martin – 1 run (PAT – Kyle Battin) – 8:09
SJP – Olamide Zaccheaus – 37 pass from Martin – (PAT – Battin) – 4:56
LS – Coleman – 20 pass from Kane – (PAT – Winslow) – 11:51
SJP – Zaccheaus – 90 yard KO return – (PAT – Battin) – 11:29
SJP – Zaccheaus – 10 run – (PAT – wide right)
LS – Coleman – 5 pass from Kane – (PAT – Winslow)
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