NO. 1 ST. JOE'S PREP 35, NO. 6 LA SALLE 28
St. Joseph's Prep, buoyed by a splendid offensive showing in the early going, struck the first blow in its heated series with Catholic League Class AAAA archnemesis La Salle.
Focusing on the present instead of a possible playoff meeting next month versus the Explorers, the Hawks found the end zone four times in the first half and held on for a 35-28 victory Friday night before an overflow crowd at Plymouth Whitemarsh.
"We'll probably meet them again," Prep senior two-way back Vince Moffett said, "but we take each game as it comes. We don't look ahead. Our next game is the most important one to us."
Last year, the Prep took the regular-season matchup. La Salle turned the tables with an overtime triumph in the league final.
"We just viewed this as another game," Hawks senior quarterback Chris Martin said. "It's always big when it's La Salle, but the fans probably get more into the hype than the players."
In the first half, while building a 28-7 advantage, the Prep, ranked No. 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, netted 333 yards worth of offense and 13 first downs.
Before the break, Martin (19-for-27 passing, 242 yards, three scores) completed 13 of 18 tosses for 183 yards and two touchdowns. His 1-yard keeper was the night's first tally.
"Our tempo was where we wanted it to be," Martin said. "Our line was getting it done, our receivers were making big catches, and our running backs were finding the holes."
Martin delivered a 14-yard, first-quarter TD toss to wideout Jawan McAllister. In the second quarter, Olamide Zaccheaus went 66 yards on a direct snap from center to put the Prep (5-1 overall, 2-0 Catholic League AAAA) comfortably in front, 21-0.
After the Explorers' Nick Rinella scored on 19-yard run, rising Prep freshman De'Andre Swift turned a dump pass from Martin into a 31-yard score that made it 28-7.
"It's amazing watching him with the ball," Martin said of the aptly named Swift. "He breaks tackles, hurdles people. He really can make things happen with his quickness."
No. 6-ranked La Salle (5-2, 2-1) climbed back in after intermission, first with a 16-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by Kyle Shurmur's 9-yard TD toss to Levi Hardy.
Down by 35-14 at the start of the fourth quarter, Shurmur (14-for-24 passing, 182 yards, two TDs) connected with Rinella for another score, this one a 20-yarder, and Ryan Brady trimmed the gap to 7 on a 2-yard dive.
In the final minute, after La Salle reached the 50, Moffett, who played youth football for the Rhawnhurst Raiders, made a clinching interception on a pass intended over the middle for Hardy.
Moffett, who carried the ball five times for 12 yards, is filling in at free safety for the injured Tom Johnson.
St. Joseph's Prep 14 14 7 0-35
La Salle 0 7 7 14-28
SJP: Chris Martin 1 run (Pat Walsh kick)
SJP: Jawan McAllister 14 pass from Martin (Walsh kick)
SJP: Olamide Zaccheaus 66 run (Walsh kick)
LS: Nick Rinella 19 run (Matt Raczak kick)
SJP: De'Andre Swift 31 pass from Martin (Walsh kick)
LS: Levi Hardy 9 pass from Kyle Shurmur (Raczak kick)
SJP: Swift 22 pass from Martin (Walsh kick)
LS: Rinella 20 pass from Shurmur (Raczak kick)
LS: Ryan Brady 2 run (Raczak kick)