By Matt Smith, Delaware County Daily Times
October 01, 2010
Trailing by a touchdown, coach Ray Gionta had a slew of options. Out of the backfield, the trio of Ryan White, Ryan Duffy and Cimirrow Moat proved effective against a struggling Jaguars rush defense.
Then there was the young quarterback, junior Jamie Ridinger, who was having a breakout game throwing the ball.
Gionta decided on White, but the halfback came up two yards shy of the first-down marker and Garnet Valley escaped with a 35-28 victory at Moe DeFrank Stadium.
“We were, what, a yard short?” Gionta said when asked about the fourth-and-long play call. “Because we didn’t make it, yeah, I probably should have called something different.”
Nevertheless, the Tigers proved something against the host Jaguars. Following a blowout loss to Upper Darby last week, Gionta had his players ready to fight the reigning two-time defending Central League champions to the final minute.
“I think Ray Gionta is one of the best coaches you’ll find around here,” Jaguars boss Mike Ricci said. “And that’s a very good football team.”
Fullback Thomas Obi-Tabot put the cap on a 14-play, 91-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring run to give the Jaguars (5-0) a seven-point lead with 2:33 left in regulation.
“They surprised us,” said Obi-Tabot, who missed last week’s game against Radnor due to a shoulder injury. “We had a lot of mental mistakes tonight. We’ve got to buckle down and we can’t just expect to win sometimes.”
Obt-Tabot, who totaled 18 yards on four carries for the season entering Friday, had 17 totes for 86 yards. He registered a pair of scoring runs and a 14-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.
“It felt good to be back out there,” the senior said. “There are times when I’m nervous, but when the game is on the line, and all my teammates really believe… I didn’t feel it (the injury) at all.”
While Obi-Tabot got the bulk of the carries, Jake Helmes did everything, including rushing for 137 yards. The first-year starting signal caller completed his first six pass attempts and was 9 of 13 for 150 yards and two TDs.
“Our offense has been executing real well all year,” Ricci said. “With different guys in there, we’ve been able to do different things and we got the most out of our offense tonight. They kept battling back whenever (Marple) would score.
“I can’t say enough about Jake. He’s done so much and he really made the big plays tonight.”
Defense might be a concern for Ricci and the Jaguars going forward, but they battled through the adversity like most good teams should.
“Marple did what we thought they’d do,” Ricci said. “They executed on offense and we didn’t execute on defense. They were able to take advantage of our mistakes that’s for sure.”
As a whole, stopping Marple’s potent three-man backfield was difficult, but the Jaguars made some notable key stops. White’s carry on fourth down included, Garnet’s defense thwarted a lengthy Marple drive at the 5-yard line to open the second half.
“Give credit to them,” Gionta said. “When their defense had to, they made the stops.”
The Tigers (2-3) trailed by eight going into the fourth period. White hauled in an 18-yard pass from Ridinger and a two-point conversion knotted the score.
The teams traded blows in the first half. Moat scampered 59 yards to the end zone on a sweep play 1:04 into the game. The Jaguars responded with a pair of first-quarter scores by Obi-Tabot
The Tigers got within a point when Mario Dioguardi caught an 8-yard pass from Ridinger – the team’s first passing touchdown of the season – early in the first period.
Sure enough, the Jags responded. Helmes broke off a 63-yard run to make it 21-13, and Andrew DiPetro had a 76-yard touchdown reception to expand the lead to 15 before White’s 69-yard run with 1:51 to go in the half cut Marple’s deficit to eight.
Duffy posted a team-high 88 yards on 14 carries for the Tigers, who have dropped two straight decisions. White was right behind with 86 yards and Moat chipped in with 67.
“The kids did a great job,” Gionta said.