SPRINGFIELD >> Taking advantage of two early turnovers and turning them into touchdowns, Springfield got a fast jump and went on to a 41-0 lashing of Lower Merion Friday night.
Lower Merion quarterback Matt O’Connor was intercepted by linebacker David Strawley on the third play of the game, giving the Cougars great field position on the Aces’ 31-yard line.
Ja’Den McKenzie rushed three times on the short drive for 20 yards, setting up Dwayne Snipes’ one-yard touchdown run and it was 7-0.
The Aces’ next drive started on their 20-yard line. Lower Merion was unable to move the ball and set up to punt.
Springfield defensive end Kevin Deal put every inch of his 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame into blocking Marek D’Alonzo’s punt so cleanly, the junior was able to maneuver himself perfectly to pick up the ball and run 10 yards into the end zone and 14-0 lead with 6:43 left in the first quarter.
The play was a back-breaker and the Aces were never able to get anything going on either side of the ball the rest the way.
“Special teams turnovers and scores can really be deflating,” Springfield head coach Chris Britton said after the game. “Kevin is a first-year player and he is getting better and better each game.”
Deal talked about the play that most defensive linemen dream of.
“I just fired off the line and got my hand extended and I got some space on him,” Deal recalled. “I saw the punter going through his motion and I thought, ‘All right, I can block this.’ So I threw him a little bit and it (the ball) ended up hitting right off my left elbow. I turned my head around real quick and I saw it spinning around, so I picked it up and … I think Dave Strawley was ahead blocking for me, so it was easy running.”
Deal said he felt that put Lower Merion on its heels.
“I think that play was definitely a blow to them,” he said. “We came out and scored first and then to come up with another defensive and special teams play, it’s really hard to overcome that.”
“It wasn’t our most challenging game,” Deal said. “But we never know what to expect. … Our defense is solid, the offense is running pretty smoothly so I think in the end we just put everything together.”
McKenzie led Springfield (5-0) with 97 yards on five carries and two touchdowns. The 6-1, 190-pound junior had scoring runs of 30 and 46 yards.
Philip Shovlin added 40 yards on five carries including a two-yard touchdown for the Cougars.
Springfield backup quarterback Brandon DiChiacchio came in and completed both passes he attempted, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to Frank Durham, Jr. to make the score 41-0 with 3:15 left in the first half.
O’Connor finished 8 of 21 for 117 yards and threw two interceptions.