By Matthew DeGeorge, Delaware County Daily Times
November 14, 2011
With the clock running under a minute in the fourth quarter, a 31-7 defeat to their Central League rivals firmly sealed, the Tigers faced a fourth-and-five at their 35-yard line. The play was simple, a handoff to Cimirrow Moat, one of 26 times the number of the county’s second-leading rusher entering play Friday was dialed up. The result was all too familiar for Marple Newtown fans: After a cut back, he was met with open arms by defensive lineman Kevin Sherry, stood up and dropped for a gain of just a yard.
It was a microcosm of a stellar defensive effort from the Panthers (8-3) that bottled up Moat all night and sent the defending District champs to the semifinals for a matchup with Pottsgrove.
“All week during practice, we were talking about shutting down the center, shutting down the sweep, shutting down everything,” said linebacker Jake Morris, one of numerous standouts on the evening. “No. 30. Moat. We tried to make them one-dimensional throwing the ball. And we accomplished what we wanted. He didn’t get too many yards, and we got the result.”
Moat, who had averaged 8.4 yards per carry this season, was limited to only 77 yards on 26 totes by a swarming Strath Haven defense that keyed in on him. In Marple Newtown’s 24-7 win over Strath Haven in Week 3, Moat torched the Panthers for 138 yards and two TDs. But an active defensive front led by linebackers Brian Vendetta and Josh Johnson and linemen PJ Plummer and Drew Platt made sure there would be no repeat of that success.
“They just executed better,” said Moat, who was suffering through a bone bruise that had him at less than 100 percent and limping by game’s end. “That’s all there is to say.”
Strath Haven’s ground game, meanwhile, had no trouble getting in gear. The three-headed backfield tandem of Keith DeCindis, James Griffin and Tevon Howie did most of the damage. In the first half, though, it was quarterback Kevin Mohollen, who didn’t have to throw a pass on the night, who popped up with the big plays.
The sophomore signal-caller had scoring dashes of 14 and 1 yards before halftime, sandwiched around a 10-yard burst from Howie. Once the line was good and tired, DeCindis, the self-proclaimed “closer” back, rumbled for second-half touchdowns. He carried it 21 times, amassing 100 yards.
“James and Tevon run everything out and then once it gets down to the end and we just need to get yards, it’s just my job to get them,” DeCindis said.
The game was of particular importance to the senior captain, who was out injured the first time the teams met. Since returning in Week 4, he’s put up big numbers, rushing for nine touchdowns in six games and collecting consecutive 100-yard efforts.
The rematch bore little resemblance to the first meeting, one in which Strath Haven head coach Kevin Clancy admitted the Tigers “beat us bad.” With two teams as evenly matched as these, the first score became vital and came on Strath Haven’s first drive. Mohollen’s 14-yard run capped a 10-play, 62-yard drive.
Even more crucial is which team would make the first mistake. It turned out to be the Tigers when punter Chris Kurkian went to a knee at his 11-yard line to field a wobbly punt snap. Three plays later, Tevon Howie (12 carries, 79 yards) bulled his way in from 10 yards out to open up a 12-0 lead.
“The first time, we scored first. (Friday) we had the ball then we had a mistake on our third play and it got us out of sync,” Marple Newtown head coach Ray Gionta said. “Then they scored, and we gave them the ball deep. The first game, they made the mistakes. This game, we did.”
“(Gionta and I) are both conservative guys, and if there’s a turnover, it’s a big play,” Clancy said. “The punt play, that was a big play in the game.”
The Tigers got a glimmer of hope in the second quarter, with quarterback Jamie Ridinger finding Nick Ciarrocchi for a 30-yard pass that got the Tigers on the board. But a fumble by Moat on the opening drive of the second half and three turnovers-on-downs stifled any comeback hopes.