DOWNINGTOWN >> The Downingtown East offense is not prone to short scoring drives, but they used quick strikes to devasting effect on a sparkling clear, comfortable Friday night at Kottmeyer Stadium.
Three Bryce Lauletta to Ethan Harris scoring passes guided the way as the Cougars scored all their points in the first half en route to a 35-7 victory over Avon Grove in the Ches-Mont League National Division opener for both teams.
East continued its mastery over the Red Devils, moving to 11-0 against them all time. The Cougars have a 73-7 margin in their last two wins over Avon Grove. Downingtown East improves to 3-1 overall, while Avon Grove lost its second straight game to fall to 2-2.
Avon Grove’s offensive struggles happened almost immediately, its first series resulted in losses of five and 16 yards, a delay of game penalty and an incomplete pass.
After a short 24-yard punt, the Cougars set up shop at the 35-yard line and Lauletta hit a wide-open Harris up the middle for the opening score.
“The offensive line held up the D-line, we executed our plays and Bryce found me deep,” said Harris. “The way their defense works and the way practiced it, I was kind of expecting it (to be wide open). It worked out pretty well.”
“I think they were worried about our running, so we thought we could hit them with some play-action passes,” said East coach Mike Matta.
The Red Devils’ next possession ended in disaster again as quarterback Joey Borcky fumbled the ball and Connor Munnelly recovered at the East 49. Nine plays later, East was in the end zone again. This time, Spencer Umbereger ran it in for a 14-0 lead. Lauletta had a key 10-yard scramble on a 3rd-and-9 to the Avon Grove 40 to keep the drive going.
The Cougars made it three-for-three in almost a carbon copy of their first score. After Avon Grove went three-and-out, and East posted a short punt return, the Vikings had the ball on the Avon Grove 35 when lightning struck again. Lauletta and Harris hooked up on another score, and with 4:32 still left in the first, East had a 21-0 advantage.
“We wanted to start fast,” said Harris. “With this being the first league game, we wanted to show the Ches-Mont what we are all about.”
Downingtown East recovered another Avon Grove fumble to set up a short field again. The Cougars went six plays to score their fourth straight TD. Dan Liaudaitis busted up the middle for a six-yard run to build a 28-0 bulge.
It took just a total of 4:07 for East to score its four touchdowns, and the Cougars started three of their first four drives in Avon Grove territory.
East was only slowed when Nate Riddell intercepted a pass in Avon Grove territory. But it was only a momentary setback, as East made it 35-0 late in the first half, Harris rumbled in from the 15 after catching a Lauletta pass to put the game into the mercy rule once the second half started.
The East defense stood out as they held AG to just 27 yards of total offense in the first half. Of the 28 plays Avon Grove ran in the first half, only 11 went for positive yards.
“We feel we have a real good defensive line, and they kind of controlled the game,” said Matta.
With the starters out, the second half was mostly a perfunctory exercise. The one bright moment for the Red Devils came after Dylan Lampham returned a partially blocked punt 32 yards to the four. On a 3rd-and-goal, Avon Grove got on the board on a 3-yard pass from Shane Wolford to Jordan Paone.
Lauletta finished 6-of-11 for 119 yards, three scores and one interception. Paul Carpenter received the bulk of the carries Friday, recording 16 attempts for 61 yards.
“Paul is a tough kid,” said Matta. “We ran Liaudaitis a lot last week, so we wanted to give him a break.”
Harris caught four balls for 96 yards and the three TDs.
The Cougars head to Unionville next week for a nonleague Ches-Mont crossover contest. Avon Grove tries to get back on track by hosting West Chester East next Saturday afternoon.