In the end, Marple Newtown finds a way
By Rob Knox, Delaware County Times
September 13, 2003
Already specializing in keeping fans riveted, the Tigers waited until the fourth quarter of last night’s Central League football game against hard-luck Haverford High School to take control.
For the third consecutive week, the Tigers found themselves in another tight game.
If the Tigers continue to turn every game into a nail-biter, then the players will probably have massive amounts of gray hair and the coaching staff will be bald by the time season concludes in November.
In handing Haverford its 17th consecutive loss, the Tigers got fourth-quarter scores from sophomore Dan Scarboro, who hauled in a perfectly thrown 29-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Lenny Brown, and junior Ryan DiIoia, who shook his “tailfeather” 78 yards down the right sideline for the clinching score. Ironically, those were the only two plays that went for 20 or more yards in thegame.
“We have so much heart and confidence,” Brown said. “We don’t quit. We knew we were going to win the game, some way, somehow.”
Just a suggestion, maybe the Marple Newtown football boosters should give a free bottle of Rolaids to every fan attending Tiger games because this team has an uncanny ability to dilly-dally with the cardiovascular system.
Although the outcome of each Tiger game has been decided in the final 12 minutes, that doesn’t mean the games feature many thrills. In a game about as exciting as watching C-SPAN, both teams failed to generate over 200 yards of total offense. The Tigers and Fords combined to punt six times (in the first half!) and each team missed a field-goal attempt.
“I don’t care as long as we keep winning,” Marple Newtown coach Ray Gionta said. “Our kids have a bend-but-don’t-break attitude. We haven’t given up a lot of points.”
In posting a 2-1 record overall and a 1-1 mark in the Central League, the Tigers have allowed a miniscule total of 26 points. That’s an average of 8.6 points per game. The Tiger defense was phenomenal after Brown turned in the play of the game with three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
With the Fords (0-3, 0-2) driving the ball after having an 83-yard kickoff return from Chris Lipschutz negated to open the second half, the Tigers desperately needed to get off the field.
The Fords, who were the midst of a time-consuming drive, were facing a fourth-and-5 from the Tigers’ 19 yard-line (the 15th play of the drive). Haverford quarterback Matt Rementer eluded the Tiger pass rush and appeared to having nothing but green real estate in front of him. However, Brown appeared out of nowhere to stop Rementer two yards of the first down.
Prior to Brown’s effort, Haverford had hogged the ball for 18:32, from the 10-minute mark of the second quarter to the three-minute mark of the third quarter. Yet, all the Fords had to show for their efforts was a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Rementer, which gave the Fords a 6-0 edge 2:43 before intermission.
“I knew I had to make a big play on defense,” Brown said. “It was my time to shine on defense. All I know is I wouldn’t have wanted to talk about it if I missed that tackle.”
Led by the aggressiveness of its undersized, but ultra-quick defensive line of Brian Miani, Pat DeCecco, P.J. Dortone, Jin Kim and Brian Peaters, the Tigers put a muzzle on Haverford’s offense.
After Scarboro scored, Marple Newtown’s defense forced a three-and-out, collected a pair of sacks, got an interception from Jake Gallagher and recovered a Haverford fumble on the Fords’ final snap of the game, a fourth-and-7 play from the Fords’ 45-yard line with 1:09 remaining. Dortone pounced on the loose ball and the Tigers had eked out another close victory.
“The close games are fun, but it would be nice to have an easy game once in a while,” Peters said. “We just had to dig in and use our speed. We want to finish the year strong and we believe we’re getting better. Plus we want to have a good year especially for the seniors.”