JENKINTOWN >> It would have taken a perfect effort and probably a few breaks for Jenkintown to have beaten New Hope-Solebury in football on Saturday.
Trailing at halftime, the Drakes were behind and faced a crucial decision on just how they would come out for the second half. Once the ball was kicked, Jenkintown brought the same kind of effort it had from the start.
While New Hope went on to take a 35-12 win, the Drakes never gave up and put forth a game effort.
“It was a great effort, look, we played a bigger, stronger, more physical football team but our kids played hard, you can’t discount that effort,” Drakes coach Tony Owens said. “There were mistakes made, but that happens at every level but I’m very happy with the effort. We saw a good team today and saw we have the potential to be a good team.”
New Hope’s Jack McKenna ran for 185 yards with Brendan Shadle adding 85 as the Lions repeatedly gashed Jenkintown’s defense to the outside. The Drakes have some good athletes at the end and linebacker spots, but they had a tendency to get a little too aggressive, which opened things up for the Lions run game.
McKenna said he was trying to be a little more patient on his runs to let his pull blockers get out in front and let Jenkintown’s defense get out of position.
“They have a lot of fast guys who were over-pursuing a lot, so the cutbacks were there on the outside,” McKenna said. “On the inside, they were pretty good but the outside was really working for us.”
New Hope scored on its second possession when quarterback Nick Garritano ran in from a yard out and added a second score in the second quarter when Shadle plunged in from a yard away. Jenkintown’s offense had a lot of trouble moving the ball in the first half, going three-and-out on its first three drives.
The Drakes’ fourth drive was a little longer but also ended in a punt, giving the Lions the ball with 3:34 left before half. In just one play, New Hope covered 53 yards when Garritano hit McKenna on a deep ball to make it 21-0. McKenna added 93 receiving yards on two catches to his rushing total.
Jenkintown finally got on the board with 1:19 left in the half when tough-as-nails quarterback Jake McGrath hit tight end Pat Morrin for a 29-yard touchdown. Morrin, who played most of the game with a big cut across the bridge of his nose, had a solid game catching three passes for 73 yards and recording two tackles for loss.
“I think I was able to get off the ball well,” the junior tight end said. “I was able to catch some passes, I was very confident in myself and just went out there and did what I did.”
A tremendous play by Albert Koniers on the following kickoff saw the tiny back fly down field, force and recover a fumble. But Jenkintown couldn’t convert and saw New Hope squeeze in one last touchdown before the half when a 40-yard pass to McKenna set up a 19-yard pass from Garritano to Hunter Pala with 15.3 seconds left.
Trailing 28-6 at the break, it was a gut-check moment for Jenkintown.
“Coach gave us a real good speech, he put up some plays on the board and told us what we had to do,” Morrin said. “Steve Charlemagne gave us a very inspirational speech as well to get us pumped up.”
“We told them that they’re not supermen over there, (New Hope) is a good team but let’s make sure we win the second half,” Owens said. “That’s all we wanted to do, win the second half. We said don’t give them a free pass, don’t let them just roll over you and quit. Show you’ve got something inside of you.”
Jenkintown’s second half started in disaster when Charlemagne, the team’s senior tailback and leader, fumbled and lost the ball on the first play. But three plays later, he came in as a linebacker and knocked the ball out of Garritano’s hands and fell on it to recover the fumble.
New Hope lost some composure in the second half, getting flagged for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on a promising fourth-quarter drive that when coupled with a five-yard flag, put the Lions in a 3rd-and-52. Jenkintown’s Max Wollman got a pass breakup on the play to force a punt, a big win for the Drakes defense.
“We want to be the best team we can be and learn every week,” Morrin said. “Every week we’re going to be better. I’m not saying we’re a consistent team right now, but we’re getting better.”
McGrath hit Charlemagne for a one-yard touchdown with 3:33 left in the game. The senior, in his first year playing quarterback, showed a lot of toughness by continually getting up after being crushed by two, three or more New Hope defenders.
“He’s been great, he has a great attitude, he plays hard, he’s at practice every day and is a great student,” Owens said. “He’s a pleasure to be around.”
Though New Hope added a late score on a 38-yard run by McKenna, the Lions had struggled offensively in the second half. Jenkintown didn’t quit and while it didn’t reflect on the scoreboard, the Drakes knew they had put everything out on the field.
They will get back at next Saturday night when they travel to Delco Christian, another good team in the BAL.
“We need to work on everything, especially blocking and tackling,” Owens said.
New Hope-Solebury 7 21 0 7 – 35
Jenkintown 0 6 0 6 – 12
NHS – Nick Garritano 1 run (Logan Waterman kick) 4:44
NHS – Brendan Shadle 1 run (Waterman kick) 7:37
NHS – Jack McKenna 53 pass from Garritano (Waterman kick) 3:24
J – Pat Morrin 29 pass from Jake McGrath (kick fail) 1:19
NHS – Hunter Pala 19 pass from Garritanto (Waterman kick) 15.3
J – Steven Charlemagne 1 pass from McGrath (2-point fail) 3:33
NHS – McKenna 38 run (Waterman kick) 1:55
First downs 16 9
Rushes-Yards 34-315 27-70
Passing 8-16-2-0 10-22-2-1
Passing Yards 133 125
Total Yards 448 194
Penalties-Yards 10-83 6-30
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 1-1
Punting 3-31.6 5-35.4
Rushing: NHS – Brendan Shadle 11-85, Jack McKenna 16-185, Nick Garritano 4-43, Jesse Capriotti 3-2; J – Steven Charlemagne 11-52, Jake McGrath 11-2, John Contoudis 1-(-5), Albert Koniers 4-21
Passing: NHS – Garritano 8-16-2-0-133; J –McGrath 10-22-2-1-125
Receiving: NHS – Andrew Wheelan 3-13, Shadle 1-(-1), McKenna 2-93, Hunter Pala 2-27; J – Charlemagne 2-5, Pat Morrin 3-73, Koniers 2-9, Contoudis 1-5, Michael DiValentino 1-14, Jason Plange 1-19
Interceptions: NHS – Patrick Tangradi
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