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Springfield scraps its way past Marple Newtown

By 4 November, 2011August 18th, 2012No Comments

By Jack McCaffery, Delaware County Daily Times
November 04, 2011

SPRINGFIELD — After his Cougars defeated Marple Newtown, 17-12, in a game critical to postseason seeding Friday night, Springfield coach Tom Kline had a selection of two sciences to provide an explanation.

He could have used mathematics.

Or he could have used psychology.

Either way, the answer would come back to junior place-kicker Brad Lord.

With Lord providing a field goal and two PATs in the five-point victory, the arithmetic was simple. As for the psychology, that was, too. Simply, Kline had seen something all along in Lord that had him convinced that he could make a difference between a good season and a memorable one.

“It was funny,” Kline said. “Somebody wrote something a couple of weeks ago in a paper – not one of the ones from around here — when I chose to go for it on fourth down in one game. They actually commented that it showed a lack of confidence in my kicker. It was the total opposite of the way I feel about him. Because if I want to kick a field goal, I am going to throw him on the field and he is going to do it for me.

“He always comes through for us.”

Lord came through with a 29-yard first-quarter field goal to cut a 6-0 deficit in half, just 3:09 after Joseph-Phuong Pham’s 25-yard TD reception from James Ridinger. His PATs followed a two-yard Cameron Durham touchdown run, and an odd third-quarter Springfield touchdown that proved the difference. On that play, Ryan Strain hit Warren Allen with a short pass, Allen charging 18 yards to the Marple Newtown two, where he fumbled. Teammate Barry Foster recovered and finished the scoring play, then watched Lord inflate the lead to 17-6.

That cushion was critical, for after sitting out the first three quarters with a leg injury, top Tigers running back Cimirrow Moat attempted to lead a rally, rushing six times for 45 yards, including a 1-yard TD, in the fourth quarter.

In part because they were less successful on special teams, the Tigers dipped to 7-3 and failed to charge past Springfield in the District One Class AAA seeding race. Springfield broke a two-game losing streak to improve to 8-2, strengthening its position. Both teams will be in the postseason.

“We made the playoffs,” Tigers coach Ray Gionta said. “We’re probably going to be the fourth seed, Springfield the two seed. I am really proud of the way the kids played. We had a lot of adversity tonight and the kids just gave us a great effort.”

With Moat largely unavailable, Gionta relied on sophomore Mike White. In his second varsity game, White rushed 13 times for 89 yards.

Strain had nine completions for 137 yards for the Cougars.

“The last team standing won tonight,” Kline said. “And that was us.”

Though just 5-10 and 150 pounds, Lord made that happen. In practice, he will regularly connect on 50-yard field goals, and has begun to spread some email around, alerting college coaches of his availability. In one recent one-point loss, he was ruled to have missed a PAT, though Springfield insiders still roll their eyes, believing the kick was good.

“I am lucky that this team scores a lot of points, so that gives me a lot of chances,” Lord said. “That other game, it was a bad call or whatever. I am just moving on.”

He is moving on, and so is Springfield, a losing streak over, a postseason to attack.

“Coming back from two losses, we just had to do our thing,” Lord said. “We kept our focus and that put us in the second seed right now with the first home game in the playoffs. So it is pretty awesome.”