MIDDLETOWN >> It did not take Jacob Buttermore long to make an impact in Garnet Valley’s 42-14 victory over Penncrest on Friday night at Lewis Scott Field.
On his first touch, Buttermore raced 71 yards with a reverse during a Jaguars punt return. Three plays later Garnet Valley quarterback Nick Juliano slammed into the end zone for an early 7-0.
Unfortunately for the Lions, Buttermore was far from done. Despite a light workload, Buttermore seemingly took advantage of every opportunity. The senior running back had 48 yards rushing on four carries, but also delivered the knockout blow to Penncrest with a 90-yard kickoff return touchdown to open the second half.
Oh, and the senior crushed all five of his point after attempts, only ceding to back-up Jason Rose after his kick return touchdown in an effort to rest his legs.
The performance was simply electrifying.
“He had the long punt return there in the first half and the kick return to start the second half and as we know, he’s a special player who make plays,” said Jaguars coach Mike Ricci, whose team improved to 5-2 overall and 4-2 in the Central League.
Buttermore credited the team’s work in practice for the special teams success.
“We usually don’t get one like that,” said Buttermore of the punt return that set up the game’s first score. “We practice it every week and tonight we were able to execute it.”
On the kick return score, Buttermore referenced the hard work of those blockers around him that allowed the return man to speed away from the pack.
“I was always taught to hit the wall as hard as I can and the hole would set itself up, and I just got lucky,” Buttermore said.
Aside from the powerful offensive display and the rugged defensive effort, Garnet Valley showed great focus and resilience, especially in light of heartbreaking losses to Ridley and Haverford, and the loss of a key player early in the game. Workhorse running back Danny Guy left the contest early due to an injury, but the Jaguars displayed the durability and toughness that the program has become known for and trudged forward without missing a beat.
“One of things we talk about is oneness,” said Ricci. “Danny Guy is a great player, a hard worker, and guys were crushed when he went down, but they also know that someone else has to step up. We practice and prepare for those kinds of situations and we have someone who’s ready to step in.”
“When we practice, everybody gets reps, and we’re three-deep at each position, so we always have someone ready,” said Buttermore.
With the offense missing Guy, Juliano jumped in to help with three rushes for 63 yards and two touchdowns. Dominic Bertone was also a big factor with 62 yards on 10 carries for a touchdown.
“Nick Juliano did such a great job guiding our offense and putting guys in the right positions so we could make plays,” Ricci said. “We also could not run the ball without the play of the offensive line.”
Garnet Valley stifled the Penncrest running game early and forced the Lions to air it out, which Penncrest found equally frustrating at times.
“We’ve been really good against the run all year,” said Ricci. “I thought Penncrest made a great throw and catch on the one long pass play in the first half, but I think, as a defense, we were better overall than we have been.”
Penncrest fought hard in defeat, but could not match up with the depth and speed of the Jaguars. The Lions threatened Garnet Valley at times, but struggled to maintain the type of consistency required to win the game.
“Our scout team prepared beyond anything we could see on the field and we were ready for everything,” said Chad Hrivnak, who was unofficially credited with 2.5 sacks. “We all just focus on our jobs and when everyone is that focused it just makes it easy for everyone outside to contain and to do your thing.”
Penncrest, which fell to 2-5 overall and 1-5 in the Central League, received solid efforts from Caleb Mahalik, who rushed for 84 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns, and wide receiver Manny Ruffin, who hauled in four receptions for 68 yards.
The Lions will look to rebound next week at Springfield, while Garnet Valley will return home for a date with Strath Haven.