By Matt Smith
RADNOR — By the sound of it, Marple Newtown couldn’t afford another loss.
Boasting a winning record through five games, the Tigers knew they had a tough task in store when they hit the road to face Radnor Thursday night.
Abel Hoff and Adrian Sapnas, MN’s dynamic offensive duo, felt the pressure. Radnor came out firing and seemingly possessed the kryptonite that Ridley had two weeks earlier for Sapnas, the Superman of Delco football. The county’s leader rusher was bottled up. Sapnas went into the locker room at halftime with a frustratingly mediocre stat line: 14 carries, 48 yards. Radnor juniors Dario Falcone (linebacker) and Alex DeNolfo (lineman) had a lot to do with Sapnas’ lack of production.
“We came out a little flat. Being that it was a Thursday night, maybe we weren’t used to it,’ said Hoff, who had a touchdown catch and an interception. “At halftime, we challenged the line because we knew this game was a must-win for us.’
The offensive line answered and Sapnas went nuts, rushing for a pair of touchdowns en route to another 200-yard performance as Marple Newtown went home happy with a well-deserved, 24-13 victory.
Sapnas is the third player in Delco history to have three games of at least 250 yards in one season. The senior finished with 255 yards on 28 carries to give him a cool 1,181 yards after six games.
“During halftime, Coach Gick (Chris Gicking), (quarterback) Marcus (Weathers) and I … we all challenged the line. We said to them, ‘ Are you guys going to roll over or are you guys going to step up?’ They sure stepped up.’
Sapnas broke off runs of 80, 44 and 53 yards in the second half. The big blow was the 80-yard scamper that put the Tigers (4-2, 4-1) ahead to stay, 14-7. On the first play of the fourth quarter, he darted 44 yards to paydirt to make it a two-touchdown game.
“I tell (the offensive line) all the time, ‘ If you give me a little hole, I’ll find a way to score,” Sapnas said. “I definitely got to thank these guys — (Kyle) Kelly, Big Luke (Lozowicki).’
Radnor coach Tom Ryan was proud of his defense’s effort against Sapnas through two quarters, but the Raiders (3-3, 1-3) couldn’t sustain that effort.
“I thought we were in good position, but the kid is a heck of a player,’ Ryan said. “He’s the leading rusher in the county and probably in this part of the state. Our thing all week was not give up the big play. Obviously, we gave it up a couple times tonight. Coach Gick is doing a good job. That’s a very good football team we just played.’
Hoff was left wide open in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. Hoff started play as the third-leading receiver in Delco.
“Radnor is a good team,’ he said. “Their D-line was getting a lot of penetration in the first half and made it difficult on us. Everyone really stepped up in the second half.’
Marple’s goal defensively was to contain athlete Jack Wilson, who is Radnor’s most dangerous offensive threat. He was limited to 49 yards rushing and 38 yards receiving, 25 of which came on the final play of the game.
Vinnie Kelly returned an interception 23 yards to cut into Marple Newtown’s lead in the fourth quarter. No worries for the Tigers, though, as a 44-yard dash by Sapnas put them in prime position for an eventual 29-yard field goal George Lambritsios.
“I think we needed this game. If we had rolled over, that could have completely changed our season in a bad way,’ Sapnas said. “The way that we played in the second half, I feel as though if we play like that every time, we can compete with any team on the rest of our schedule.’