Delco Times & GameTimePA.com
NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA — To the naked eye, Marple Newtown and Penncrest were in opposite situations.
The Tigers entered with a terrific chance to make the playoffs. The Lions entered playing for pride. The 37-21 result was expected. The team on top wasn’t.
Yes, Penncrest’s domination of Marple Newtown Friday was a stunner in every sense of the word. The Lions, who finish 3-7 overall and 3-6 in the Central League, took it to a Tigers team that wound up just needing a win to make the District One Class AAA playoffs, considering what occurred in other games.
But the Lions racked up 418 yards of total offense and got four touchdown passes from Dan Fisher. They forced four Tiger turnovers. Outside of one long run, they held running back Adrian Sapnas (158 yards for the game, 1,790 for the season) in check. It wasn’t close.
“We knew it was our last game, we wanted to finish on a high note,’ Penncrest coach Rick Stroup said. “We made plays tonight.’
Those plays cost the Tigers (4-6, 4-5), who despite taking a 6-0 lead, were down 21-6 at halftime and by three scores for most of the second half. A large deficit is not ideal for this run-first squad, and that was evident.
Marple Newtown coach Chris Gicking, left understandably frustrated postgame, knew a chance to do something special was wasted.
“Everything was lined up for us, we just had to take care of business,’ he said. “We just didn’t take advantage of the situation.’
The Tigers forced a turnover on downs inside the five on the Lions’ opening possession, then proceeded to go 98 yards and score on Sapnas’ one-yard run. It was 6-0 early in the second quarter, and things made sense. Then they quickly started not to.
Penncrest responded on Fisher’s 25-yard pass to Zane Horne, which came on fourth down. A Sapnas fumble was followed two plays later by Joe Quintilliano’s 54-yard touchdown run. Later, a bobbled snap on a punt led to Fisher’s 25-yard strike to Zack Kaut, making it 21-6.
“It’s our last game, it’s great to go out with a win,’ said an emotional Fisher. “I just wanted to go out on a win with my boys.’
A Pat Hughes 20-yard field goal and a 58-yard pass from Fisher to Steve Moppert (which followed an interception) made it 30-6 midway through the third quarter. Marple Newtown got a 95-yard touchdown run from Sapnas early in the fourth quarter, but Fisher hit Diego Zubieta on a 47-yard screen pass to immediately answer back.
That was the final nail in the coffin for the game, and Marple Newtown’s playoff hopes.
“We have good athletes, a great bunch of kids,’ Stroup said. “It was good, a good night.’
Fisher wound up with 191 passing yards. Quintilliano rushed for 135. It was the Lions’ best game of the year in their final performance. They’re not sure what prompted it.
“It just happened,’ Fisher said. “We knew we had it in us.’
Now, Marple Newtown will host Chichester next Friday in its season finale. It will be one final game for the seniors, one last chance to head into the offseason on a high note.
The Tigers did get 175 passing yards from Marcus Weathers, including his late 50-yard touchdown to Abel Hoff, who caught 11 passes for 119 yards. Gicking liked how his team played until the final whistle, despite the insurmountable deficit.
It’s something to build on. But, alas, Friday’s disappointment will linger.
“They were physical, very physical up front,’ Gicking said. “By the time we ended up making more plays, it was too late.’