GLENOLDEN >> From the get-go, Neumann-Goretti knew what to expect from Interboro. A good dosage of power runs and dive plays to move the chains while controlling the tempo. The only issue was stopping the array of running backs the Bucs shuffled in and out, which the Saints could not slow down.
Interboro racked up 240 yards on the ground, led by starting running back Chris Thomas with 96 yards and three touchdowns, and continually dominated the line of scrimmage on its way to a 36-0 victory over the Saints. Thomas scored on touchdown runs of eight, five and four yards while averaging 6.0 yards per carry.
Thomas was not the only rusher with a strong day for Interboro as fullback Joe Forte tallied 56 rushing yards and a touchdown. Adding to Thomas and Forte, Kalie Kuyateh rushed for 36 yards and Matt MacMullen added 34. Thomas said his team was not as focused on the Saints as it should’ve been and was lucky to come away with a victory.
“Our heads weren’t fully into the game and we didn’t play with our full extent on both offense and defense,” Thomas said. “(But) we came through and got the win.”
If the running game was good, the defense was better. While Thomas and the offense were methodically moving down the field while using up large portions of the clock, the defense was being opportunistic and taking advantage of the Saints’ inexperience. The Bucs (3-0) defense recorded a season-high eight turnovers, including four interceptions of Neumann-Goretti (0-2) quarterbacks Sal Emma and Zaire Hart-Hawkins.
The biggest turnover of the game came when safety Matt DiSands, who had three picks in the game, intercepted Emma’s pass late in the second quarter and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown to give Interboro a 22-0 lead just 4:17 before halftime. Interboro head coach Steve Lennox said his team’s ability to convert turnovers into points was caused by shortening the field.
“The defense did a great job with turnovers. If you can get turnovers, you have a shorter field and (one of our drives) went in for a touchdown,” Lennox said, referring to Forte’s eight-yard scamper which came after DiSands forced a fumble from Maurice Mazzccua on a kickoff return midway through the third quarter.
The Saints were only able to muster 12 yards on the ground and two first downs for the game. Neumann-Goretti’s best drive came just before halftime when Aiden Brown took a fake punt for 16 yards. Saints first-year head coach Lincoln Townshend Jr. wants his team to learn from its mistakes and learn something from each game the Saints play.
“We’re freshmen and sophomores; I have four seniors. We’re starting over,” Townshend said. “As freshmen and sophomores, they’re going to make mistakes. But we can’t make the same mistakes.”
Interboro focused on what has made it successful through the early part of the season, but Lennox feels his team needs to refocus on taking the season one game at a time and not looking too far ahead.
“If we look past someone and underestimate an opponent, I think we can get beat,” Lennox said. “We’re good enough to win, but I don’t think we’re good enough to just show up.”