By Joseph Pawlikowski
Special to The CS&T
McDevitt’s last game against Cheltenham was a disappointment defensively, surrendering 42 points. Friday night, they responded with a shutout.
The Lancers’ defense was absolutely dominant against Neumann-Goretti, constantly pressuring quarterback Anthony Mastrando. He was forced to throw mostly short passes with little success, completing 11 of 24 for only 113 yards.
McDevitt coach Pat Manzi gave his team credit for bouncing back from a big loss.
“I think the defense was a little embarrassed by their effort in the second half against Cheltenham, and they wanted to bounce back. They played with a lot of confidence tonight,” he said.
McDevitt led 16-0 at halftime, following touchdowns by running back Matt Conroy and wide receiver Rodney Ellis, as well as a safety.
McDevitt maintained control throughout the second half and their lead was never in jeopardy. Quarterback Luke Sawick was effective, completing six of 12 passes. And although he threw for only 72 yards, the majority of completions were for first downs that helped sustain scoring drives.
The third quarter’s bizarre sequence of events prevented Neumann-Goretti from getting back into the game.
The Saints had to punt from their own 26-yard line on their opening possession. Punter Will Huff was rushed and although no one blocked the punt, it forced Huff to change his motion and he punted the ball straight up in the air, barely crossing the line of scrimmage. The ball took a huge bounce toward Neumann-Goretti’s goal line and ended up being downed on the four-yard line. McDevitt took advantage and scored a touchdown to make it 23-0.
Neumann-Goretti got the ball back, and Mastrando scrambled for a 60-yard touchdown run.
Unfortunately for Neumann-Goretti, the touchdown was nullified by a penalty for an illegal block. Despite a flag being thrown by two officials, a frustrated Neumann-Goretti coach Bill Systma argued the call, but to no avail.
With 5:53 left in the game, McDevitt’s last touchdown, a one-yard quarterback sneak by Sawick on first and goal, capped the victory for the Lancers.
Manzi stressed the importance of opening Catholic League play with a win. “This was a big game for us,” said Manzi.
“It was important for the guys to regain their confidence after the loss against Cheltenham and I think we did that.
“Obviously there is always room for improvement,” Manzi added. “The offense was inconsistent at times and we had some missed assignments, but the key is to keep getting better each week.”
McDevitt’s next game is against Kennedy-Kenrick on Sept. 20, while Neumann-Goretti will face Prep Charter the same day.
Joseph Pawlikowski can be reached at email@example.com.
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