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Tigers keep snarling on defense, corral Conestoga

By 14 October, 2011August 20th, 2012No Comments

By Ryan Bright, Delaware County Daily Times
October 14, 2011

TREDYFFRIN — Handing out a healthy dose of their gritty, unrelenting defense, the Marple Newtown Tigers used a pair of interceptions and three fourth-down stops to grind their way past the Conestoga Pioneers, 17-6, Friday night at Teamer Field in Central League action.

“We think we have pretty good defense,” said Marple Newtown coach Ray Gionta, whose squad has given up just 13 points in its last three games. “We have kids who can run, hit and make plays. The players were able to do that tonight and that’s why we were able to win the football game.”

The business-like win for the Tigers puts their league record at 5-1 (7-1 overall), good for third place in the tightly contested Central. More importantly, it helps keep pace with undefeated Garnet Valley and Springfield, which both earned victories of their own on Friday.

However, Gionta is not looking at anything but what’s next on the schedule.

“We’re taking it week by week,” said the coach. “We have Haverford next week, we’re not looking ahead. Next week we’re going to attack Haverford and not focus on what’s down the line.”

The fireworks started and ended in the Tiger’s opening possession at 6:55, when they moved 57 yards before running back Joey Pham took a hand-off around the right side and into the end zone for the 7-0 lead.

“That was very big,” Tigers running back Cimirrow Moat said of getting the first score. “It got us pumped, got our crowd into it.”

With points on the board, the rest was up to the Tigers defense. On the ensuing possession, the Pioneers (3-3, 4-3), led by the air game of quarterback Joe Viviano, moved freely down the field but stalled at the 27-yard line. Facing a fourth and two, the Pioneers tried to run Jerrell Clarke off tackle but was stuffed, giving Marple the ball. It was one of three times the Tigers would stop the fourth-down effort of the Pioneers, who gave up just 55 total rushing yards.

“Our defense played great, it was all about defense,” said Gionta. “They did a lot with their defense to take away some things we like to do, but we were able to get enough going.”

Heading into the break up 10-0 thanks to a 26-yard field goal by the booming leg of Anthony Nicolardi, all seemed well for the Tigers. But that’s when Conestoga turned the intensity up a notch.

Gaining the ability to run the ball in the second half, the Pioneers cut the score to 10-6 on two-yard touchdown run by Nick Prestipino that was setup by a 30-yard screen pass from Viviano, finished with 185 passing yards but no touchdowns. It was the first time all game that Conestoga was rewarded for its progress.

“It was great to finally finish a drive,” said Prestipino, who finished with 16 yards on the ground and 30 receiving. “The play before I took a screen to the two-yard line and coach let me push it in.”

But like good teams do, the Tigers countered. Intercepting a Viviano pass in Pioneers territory, Nick Ciarrocchi returned the ball to the five-yard line, where Moat finished the play on the ground, preserving the Tigers’ 17-6 win.

“I knew they were going to try to blitz, so I got low and pushed forward until I hit the end zone,” Moat said after finishing with 108 yards on the ground.

“This is a very big win against a very good team that came to play. It came down to defense.”