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Lansdale Catholic can’t shake 1st-half struggles, falls to West Catholic

CHESTER >> The Lansdale Catholic football team has the second half down. It’s those first two quarters the Crusaders can not quite seem to figure out.

“We seem to be different teams right now,” LC coach Tom Kirk said. “I love our team in the second half, I really do. I love that we can respond from some (adversity) after the first half. I just don’t love that we haven’t yet played two complete halves.”

Another sluggish start at Widener University’s Quick Stadium left Lansdale Catholic trailing West Catholic 16-0 at halftime. And while the LC ground game finally got going after the break, it was not enough to overcome three Da’vion Kidd-Jackson to Amadou Barry touchdown passes as the host Burrs hung on for a 24-20 Philadelphia Catholic League Blue Division win.

“We came out flat. We were flat during warm-ups, we just came out flat,” LC senior running back/linebacker David Saulino said.

Touchdowns runs by Saulino and quarterback Mike Basilii pulled the Crusaders (1-3, 1-1 division) to within 16-13 early in the fourth quarter. LC got the ball back still down three at its own 13 after forcing a West Catholic turnover on downs, but punted after a 3-and-out.

The Burrs (2-3, 1-1) took over 45 yards from the end zone and needed only one play to reach – Kidd-Jackson hitting a streaking Barry over midfield for six with 5:31 remaining. Ahmad Kent ran in the two-point conversion for a 24-13 advantage.

Lansdale Catholic answered with an eight-play, 64-yard drive capped by Matt Casee’s 3-yard touchdown run to make it a four-point game with 3:20 to go.

“We started to just run behind our O-line. I give them a tremendous amount of credit, they were the reason we scored all those touchdowns,” Saulino said. “They kind of said in the second half follow me, get on my back, we’ll get you to the end zone. And that’s kind of what they did.”

West could not run out the clock and gave the Crusaders one last chance starting at their own 18 with 56.5 seconds remaining, but LC could only advance as far as it own 40 and Basilii’s heave as time expired was intercepted by Barry.

“I said to our team, we’re too good to come away with moral victories and what I mean by that, I don’t mean good talent-wise, I mean good character-wise and integrity-wide. We’re not satisfied,” Kirk said. “Maybe years ago there were moral victories, but there weren’t moral victories here. And they know that, they know that this is a game that we were in a position to win.”

The first 24 minutes have been real struggle – especially offensively – for the Crusaders, who have yet to score a point before halftime in any of its four games. LC overcame its early scoring woes in picking up its first win over Bonner & Prendergast last week, erasing an 8-0 deficit at the break to beat the Friars 16-8. Lansdale Catholic came close, but it could not rally again against the Burrs.

“It stings, you know, it stings, but we got to make adjustments this week, get ready for (Conwell-)Egan next week,” Saulino said.

The home contest with Conwell-Egan Saturday is a crucial one as the Eagles and Lansdale Catholic are the only two AAA sides in the PCL. One team gets the league’s berth in the District 1/12 subregional playoffs, the other would have to grab the fourth and final spot that is to be determined by the District 1 power rating system.

“It’s a very big game for us this week,” Kirk said. “Probably can’t really start thinking about playoffs or elimination yet, but there’s no secret that this is a big game for both of us.”

Casee led all rushers with 123 yards – 98 in the second half – and a touchdown on 15 carries. He also caught three passes for 53 yards. Basilii was 12-of-25 passing for 105 yards and an interception.

West Catholic’s Kidd-Jackson completed 9-fo-16 passes for 180 yards, 153 of which went to Barry over five receptions. Calil Wortham paced the Burrs on the ground with 86 yards on 12 carries.

“It’s so hard cause the matchups are tough for us cause of their speed,” Kirk said “You kind of have to pick your poison and if you let their quarterback just sit back there in the pocket, he’s going to have his way with you. You hope that you’re playing defense is better than their playing offense but he’s a pretty special player and some of those kids catching the ball are pretty good too.”

Kidd-Jackson found Barry for the first of their three TD connections at 10:49 in the second quarter, the senior wide receiver hauling the junior quarterback’s pass in the front right corner of the end zone. Wortham ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.

LC drove to the Burrs 40 on the next series, but turned the ball over on downs. After the teams traded punts, West Catholic went up 16-0 with 4:03 left as Kidd-Jackson hit Barry down the field on a 63-yard TD strike and Kent ran for the two-point conversion.

Penalties on West Catholic for punt returner interference aided Lansdale Catholic’s first two scoring drives in the second half.

Saulino finished an eight-play, 45-yard drive by bursting up the middle for a nine-yard touchdown run at 2:02 in the third quarter to cut the Burrs’ lead to 16-6.

“Our offensive line decided at halftime to kind of come together and those guys job behind them was just to run,” Kirk said. “There were really good running lanes and they ran hard.”

The Crusaders’ next series – which began at the West Catholic 39 – began with a Casee 29-yard run and ended three plays later on Basilii’s 3-yard touchdown run on a QB keeper at 11:23 in the fourth, pulling LC to within 16-13.

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