By Ryan Bright, Delaware County Daily Times
September 26, 2009
Conestoga was gashed for 200 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns in the first half as the Tigers went on to post a 34-20 upset.
“Marple Newtown outhit us, outplayed us, outexecuted us, and they deserved to win the game,” said Conestoga coach John Vogan. “It’s as simple as that. They wanted it more and they played with more fire than we did. It took our kids too long to get emotionally into the game. Tonight, all the credit goes to them. They thoroughly out-played us the whole night and there is no gray area there.”
For Marple (2-1 Central, 3-1 overall), being the underdog just fueled its competitive fire.
“It was a big win for us,” said Marple junior Ryan White, who finished with two touchdowns. “Everyone was hyped up for it and we gave it 100 percent every play. We knew we could win. We knew everyone would think we were underdogs, but we knew we could win the whole time.”
Conestoga (2-1, 2-2) may have lost more than the game. Late in the third quarter, running back Blair Brooks landed awkwardly after being tackled. He writhed in pain for close to 20 minutes, grasping his right leg until paramedics secured him to a gurney and an ambulance took him from the field. He finished with 38 total yards.
“It was a bad bump there, hopefully that’s all it was,” said Vogan. “He’s such a great kid and he’s a huge part of our offense. He’s a warrior and I have my fingers crossed and hope it’s just a bad bruise.”
The Pioneers’ troubles began on their first possession. Down 7-0 as a result of a 16-yard White score, Conestoga’s first play from scrimmage was a fumble in the backfield that buried Conestoga at its 10-yard line, resulting in a messy three-and-out. Gaining possession back, the Tigers drove back down the field again, this time scoring on a 10-yard touchdown run by White for the 14-0 lead.
The Tigers added another score in the second quarter to take a 21-0 lead into halftime.
“We didn’t execute at all, we weren’t focused,” said Conestoga quarterback Bill Flatley.
“We didn’t overlook them. We just didn’t have the week of practice that we would have liked to. We just need to move on from this.”
Marple’s running attack, led by Ryan Duffy’s 166 yards, was potent all game long.
“We were running some plays inside and outside, we had a good mix,” said Marple coach Ray Gionta. “Our offensive line played well. All the credit goes to Christian Whiteside, Kevan Strigle, Pete Finegan, Steve DeMaria, Brian Kelly and Brian Mabry.”
The Tigers’ defense was also impressive, holding the Pioneers to just two first downs and zero net rushing yards in the first half.
“You can’t beat anybody with the way we played offensively,” Vogan said.
Trailing 34-0 after the Tigers capitalized on a couple of turnovers on back-to-back Conestoga possessions to open the second half, the Pioneers’ offense finally awoke. Flatley connected with Dexter Bridge on two receptions for touchdowns, one for 24 yards and one for eight. Bridge finished with 107 yards receiving.
“We didn’t want to just give up,” said Flately, who passed for 226 yards. “There was some stuff that was open all game. It just took us until the fourth quarter to take advantage of it.”
But Vogan didn’t want to put too much stock in the late-game comeback.
“However great that comeback at the end was,” he said, “you can’t wait until the fourth quarter to start putting it together like that.”