Lying in wait, Neshaminy’s Marcus Griffin was in a position that may have felt familiar in more ways than one.
Griffin, a 5-9, 165-pound junior cornerback, waited patiently last season as primarily a contributor on special teams.
Friday night, however, it was Griffin’s time to shine, and his third-quarter interception return for a touchdown was the decisive score in Neshaminy’s 14-7 victory against visiting Roman Catholic.
“Feels good, feels good,” Griffin said. “We took a step in the right way. It’s a good way to start the season.”
With about 7 minutes left in the third, Griffin broke on a tardy pass along the Neshaminy sideline.
“Coach [Steve Wilmot] tells us to read the 3-step drop of the quarterback,” Griffin said. “Once he took those three steps, I planted and picked off the ball.”
Griffin explained that he had seen Roman quarterback Jeff Grosso use the three-step drop earlier in the game and was ready when it counted most.
Then he feasted his eyes on a defensive back’s dream.
“End zone,” he said cracking a smile. “Green [grass].”
About 25 yards later, Griffin’s touchdown gave Neshaminy (1-0) a 14-7 lead with 6 minutes, 47 seconds left in the third.
Roman (0-1) squandered several opportunities throughout the contest.
A fumbled snap and Neshaminy recovery foiled an excellent scoring opportunity at the Neshaminy 3-yard line with 4 minutes left in the third.
Roman also committed several untimely penalties.
Sophomore Brian Burton and senior Marquise Cooper, however, were effective in the backfield.
Burton finished with 64 yards on six carries, while Cooper rushed 17 times for 47 yards.
Burton was also dominant at times as a linebacker as was fellow sophomore Jerome Best on the defensive line.
Senior wideout Donathan McCants also intercepted a pass and added 42 yards on 3 receptions.
Despite offensive struggles in the passing game, Neshaminy’s Olen Manzyk led all receivers with 70 yards on three catches.
Manzyk also led a stingy defense that, save for a few big plays, held Roman to 126 ground yards on 37 attempts (3.4 yards per attempt).
Sophomore QB Brody McAndrew showed flashes of brilliance but finished 4 of 16 for 73 yards and an interception.
Mike Crescenzo added a score and 41 rushing yards for Neshaminy.
Roman’s Jeff Gross finished 8 of 17 for 92 yards.
Neshaminy 0 7 7 0 14
Roman 0 7 0 0 7
N – Mike Crescenzo 1 run. Matt Leonhauser kick.
R – Jeff Grosso run. Ryan Flaherty kick.
N – Marcus Griffin 25 interception return. Leonhauser kick.