CONCORD >> The Springfield Cougars offense did not have much to celebrate Friday night following their 34-18 loss to Garnet Valley.
They punted on five of their 11 possessions and committed two crucial turnovers: A turnover-on-downs when trailing, 28-6, and an interception which was returned for a touchdown by the Jaguars’ Joshua Ciarrocchi that ultimately put the game out of reach.
Still, they will have a few positives when they look back on their performance, and one of those will be their success in the passing game. Cougars’ quarterback Brandon DiChiacchio completed 14 of 27 for 133 yards and one touchdown. Despite the interception to Ciarroocchi, DiChiacchio had completions of 20, 24 and 27 yards, the latter of which went to wide receiver Vince Puppio for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
DiChiacchio said he saw a lot of blitzing from the Jaguars (4-1, 1-0) and utilized a lot of short passing routes.
“They were bringing a lot of pressure so we thought the short passes would be there,” DiChiacchio said.
DiChiacchio targeted several receivers, primarily Puppio, who finished with three catches for 42 yards and the fourth-quarter score.
Puppio found much of his success working from the slot across the middle of the field, which is an area he said the Cougars (2-3, 0-1) were working on in practice leading up to the game.
“They really left the middle wide open and we noticed that on a couple of plays,” Puppio said. “This week we took a lot of (passing reps) and put in a lot more passing plays in practice. We were able to execute them.”
While Puppio was controlling the middle, DiChiacchio was getting help from receivers Kyle Long and Dan Archibong on the outside. Long finished with three catches for 25 yards while Archibong finished with four catches for 50 yards, one of which was the 24-yard completion from DiChiacchio that set up the Cougars at the one-yard line.
Archibong had a few drops, but receivers like Puppio and Long were able to pick up the slack.
“I think they were lining up to Archibong a lot so they moved their safety over which open up the backside and the middle,” Puppio said. “That’s exactly where we went and it really worked out for us.”
Coming into the game, DiChiacchio had 508 yards with six touchdowns through the air. DiChiacchio and the Cougars gained 11 first downs and found success as the game wore on. They’re hoping that momentum will propel them in their next matchup against Marple Newtown.
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