SPRINGFIELD – Marple Newtown defensive end Noah Turner played with controlled aggression Friday night. He was constantly getting to the backfield, disrupting Springfield’s ability to move forward with the ball.
He was a monster.
Then again, it’s the type of performance MN coach Chris Gicking has come to expect from his 6-2, 230-pound senior.
“Noah’s the quiet leader. All he does is work,” Gicking said. “He’s playing amazing right now.”
Turner was one of many outstanding defensive performers for the Tigers in their 9-3 victory.
“It was an old-school Central League game,” Gicking said.
Even better, it was Marple Newtown’s first win against Springfield since the 2009 season.
Turner made two plays in the fourth quarter to help the Tigers (6-0, 4-0) remain perfect in 2015. His sack of Springfield quarterback Johnny Fanelli sent the Cougars (2-4, 1-3) back 14 yards on third down. On the next snap, Turner tracked down a scrambling Fanelli to force a punt as Marple clinged to its six-point advantage.
Turner preferred to give credit to his defensive mates. To praise any one individual on the Tigers defense is to praise the entire unit, he said. Turner’s selflessness is a hallmark of a great leader.
“If one person makes a play, you may not see it, but it’s because the whole team makes the play,” Turner said. “It’s a team play and not just any one individual making the plays out there.”
The Tigers weren’t out of the woods yet as Springfield would have two more opportunities to try to go in front. Luke Lozowicki came up with a sack and Justin McKeown’s tip at the line of scrimmage forced a turnover on downs. McKeown’s sack on Springfield’s next possession with less than a minute to play sealed the win.
“We knew that Springfield is a very tough team … and I couldn’t be more prouder of our guys,” Gicking said.
Springfield, led by linebackers Tom Becker and Ricky Sterling, put up a valiant effort, but probably wishes it had two plays back in the fourth quarter that enabled the Tigers to break a 3-3 deadlock. Cameron Mathes made a shoestring catch on third down to extend a drive that was capped off by a 21-yard scoring run by All-Delco Abel Hoff.
It was the difference maker.
“You obviously can’t pass much in the rain, so we just tried to run the ball as much as we could,” said sophomore Jack Fallows, who ripped off a big 46-yard run in the second quarter, setting up George Lambritsios’ 22-yard field to give the Tigers a 3-0 advantage. “It feels good to be able to help my team. I’m only a sophomore, so I’ve got plenty of time. I’m just taking it in and learning what I can.”
Hoff responded from an unusually quiet first half to finish with 174 yards of total offense. He had eight catches for 88 yards and took 16 carries for 84 yards. Sophomore quarterback Anthony Paoletti was 12-of-21 with 150 yards through the air. The Tigers ran a two-minute drill with efficiency to end the first half. Though the hurry-up ultimately failed to produce points, Paoletti cooly found four receivers on short-yardage patterns. Each time the Marple Newtown receivers had the wherewithal to get out of bounds to stop the clock.
Springfield mustered just 53 yards of total offense in the first quarter, but Fanelli found his groove after intermission. Replacing injured starter Brandon DiChiacchio, Fanelli completed his first five passes. Kyle Long, Springfield’s leading rusher and receiver entering the game, was Fanelli’s top target. Long had six catches for 59 yards.
Phil Shovlin ran the ball up the bal week early before he was forced to exit with a shoulder injury. That forced Springfield coach Chris Britton to change his plans.
“We decided that we had to throw a little bit more,” Britton said. “We knew we were light on backs and that’s kind of why we went into a different direction.”
Springfield moved the ball on its second possession after halftime. Vince Puppio hauled in two passes for 30 yards, including a 20-yarder that put the Cougars at the Tigers’ six-yard line. But two negative-yardage plays and a false start backed them up with the 18 yard line. After a four-yard scramble by Fanelli, Springfield kicker Jack Coary drilled a 36-yard field goal to even the score with 3:20 left in the third quarter.