Published: Saturday, November 01, 2008
By Chuck Marsilio Special to the Times
LOWER MERION — A week after cracking the 1,000-yard plateau for the season, Marple Newtown running back Phil Graziano had another stellar performance.
Graziano, a senior, scored four touchdowns as the Tigers routed Harriton, 38-6, to win their fourth game in a row in Central League play.
“We’re really starting to come together,” Graziano said.
Marple Newtown was a team in disarray when the year started, losing its first five games. That has changed, and the Tigers (4-6, 4-6) are seeking to turn a forgettable season into a memorable one.
“Our goal is to win out, to finish the season at .500,” Graziano said. “If we all can continue to play on the same page, I think we can do it.”
The visiting Tigers had their way with an overmatched Harriton team, connecting on deep routs down the field and running the ball at will. The scoring started when Marple quarterback Kevin Johnson found Nick Stephens for a 19-yard touchdown pass.
“He passed the ball well tonight,” Tigers coach Ray Gionta said of Johnson. “He’s continued to improve all season.”
Johnson didn’t miss a receiver, going 4-for-4 for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He found senior Ron Alf for a 40-yard touchdown in the second quarter for Johnson’s longest pass completion of the game.
Graziano, along with fellow backfield mate Dan Giordano, did the rest of the damage. Graziano scored the next three touchdowns for the Tigers, the last of which was a 20-yard sprint in the second quarter.
Marple’s final score, which came in the third quarter, was set up by a 34-yard run by Giordano, with Graziano following with an 11-yard touchdown gallop two plays later.
“Our line really blocked well tonight,” Graziano said.
His coach agreed.
“The line won the battles up front, and we were able to control the ball,” Gionta said. “We’re a young team that’s getting better at running the ball, along with stopping the run.”
While Graziano would like to end the season on a winning streak, Gionta downplayed Marple’s goal of winning out.
“We have to win the next one, and then we’ll go from there,” he said.
Harriton’s lone score came when quarterback Dan Cooper fought his way through the Tigers defensive line for a one-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Also for the Rams (1-9, 1-9), Troy Iskarpatyoti had a huge workload in carrying for 51 yards.