UPPER DARBY >> The Upper Darby and Conestoga football teams squared off Friday night in a battle of two equally-matched teams trying to reset their seasons.
The difference was the Royals (2-4 , 2-3 Central) were able to capitalize on opportunities, grinding out an 18-0 Central League win over Conestoga (1-5, 1-4) on a damp, chilly, evening at Memorial Field.
“We shot ourselves in the foot in the Red Zone,” Conestoga head coach Marquis Weeks said. “You can’t win football games like that. We had a fumble on the six going in and that just changes the whole momentum… we had another fumble on a reverse we were trying to run that was there (for a big gain). We had two fumbles in the Red Zone and statistically when you have turnovers, it is harder and harder to win the game.”
Conestoga fumbled three times and lost all three. Weeks was accurate on when and where the fumbles occurred.
The first turnover occurred at Upper Darby’s six-yard line in the first quarter, and again at the six on the opening drive of the third quarter that had looked promising.
The Pioneers were led by sophomore Milt Robinson, who rushed 25 times for 111 yards.
Upper Darby was led by junior running back Quaron Davis who rushed 23 times for 80 yards, including a one-yard touchdown on the game’s opening drive.
The other two touchdowns also came in the first half. Head coach Rich Gentile called for a double reverse on fourth-and-goal from the seven.
The ball ended up in the hands of running back Nasir Greer who calmly threw a touchdown pass to quarterback Nate Rimel who made his way to the back corner of the end zone uncovered.
The other Royals touchdown came on a three-yard run by Greer with 1:39 left in the first half.
“Quaron is our workhorse back,” Gentile said. “He does a real nice job. The best part is he is only a junior.”
Rimel was 8 for 18 for 207 yards passing.
“Nate runs the offense for us very well,” Gentile said. “He’s a senior and has total control of what we do on offense.”
Of course when you can shut out your opponent, it’s quite an accomplishment for the defense. Upper Darby was led by linebacker Richard Tougeekay and two-way linemen Derik Korboi and Dan Snyder.
“I kind of changed that defense around,” Gentile said. “I gave them a little bit more mobility where Tougeekay could go not necessarily in a gap but he could go left and right and just find seams. He made a lot of plays. That’s the first time we’ve done that with Tougeekay and think that is going to help.”
Those seams opened up because of the play of the defensive line. Snyder, who had a flawless game with his shotgun snaps, provided the muscle to open those gaps for teammates.
Tougeekay, just a sophomore, said it was great to get the shutout.
“It felt good,” Tougeekay said. “We never quit, we just played tough defense.”
Snyder said he was battling through some early injuries.
“After a certain amount of time you just have to forget about pain,” said Snyder, a junior. “You can’t think about pain anymore. This is about you and your brothers playing the game.”
Korboi said he wanted to be steady out there and let the play come to him.
“I was patient and played through the double and triple teams,” Korboi said. “It was hard at the start because it was so muddy. But we had to play to the mud and it was fun. Our defense did good tonight.”