UPPER DARBY >> Maybe if the game was played in September, Bonner & Prendergast would have fallen behind by two or three touchdowns against a very good West Catholic team.
The Friars have a couple of lopsided losses on their record.
“We’re much better than what our record says,” wide receiver Alex Coll said.
Coll, one of 16 seniors honored Saturday, made that comment after a frustrating 20-12 loss to the Burrs on senior day.
In September, as the Friars (3-5) were in the midst of a four-game slide, they might have struggled to compete against West Catholic. But that wasn’t the case Saturday. You could say the Friars had let one slip away.
“We couldn’t finish,” coach Jack Muldoon said. “As I said (to his players), I need more than 12 points. We gotta make a play.”
Muldoon lauded Joe Hartley-Vittoria for doing just that — making something happen with the ball. The Friars offense was stagnant in the second half until the senior running back got open along the Bonner sideline and made an outstanding catch on fourth down. Trailing by eight points, Hartley-Vittoria had momentarily saved the day for the Friars. Evan Raiburn alluded the West Catholic pass rush to make it happen.
Much to Muldoon’s chagrin, the Friars couldn’t capitalize.
“Joe makes a great play there and we didn’t follow it up with another great play,” he said.
“We’re getting way too many second-and-18s and third-and-32s. We can’t keep doing that.”
Alas, that’s precisely where the Friars ended up; they moved in the wrong direction. After Raiburn was sacked for a 24-yard loss, the Friars attempted a trick play to no avail. West Catholic took over on downs and ran out the clock.
“We’re trying to stick to what we do as an offense,” Muldoon said. “But, obviously, you got to do better against a better-quality opponent. Twelve points doesn’t do it.”
It doesn’t, but it speaks to the progress made by the Friars this year that they hung in there with an explosive West Catholic team. Sure, the result was disappointing, but Muldoon wasn’t discouraged by his team’s effort.
“Maybe on that last drive, we could have had some better plays,” said Coll, who had three catches for 24 yards, all coming in the second half.”We can’t do anything about it. We kind of got put in an awkward situation. We’ve had one or two games where we really came back and fought in the fourth quarter. We tried that (Saturday), but there’s really nothing you can do about it.”
Saturday’s defeat ended a two-game winning streak for the Friars, who close out the regular season with games against Conwell-Egan, a Catholic League Blue Division foe, and winless Archbishop Carroll.
Ahmad Kent paced the West Catholic offense with two touchdown receptions, including the go-ahead score with 5 minutes, 15 seconds to go. Kent caught a screen pass from Anthony Mirabile and darted 22 yards to the end zone. Kent finished with four catches for 117 yards, while Mirabile, who relieved starter Da’vion Kidd-Jackson after halftime, completed 9 of 13 pass attempts for 136 yards.
“I knew I had to score,” Kent said. “Every time I touched the ball, I knew I had to do something big.”
Prior to Kent’s touchdown, Bonner’s defense made a stand on fourth-and-goal at the end of the third quarter. After Coll caught a nine-yard pass for a first down, Bonner’s offense stalled. A blocked punt put West Catholic in business. Five plays later, Kent was in the end zone with the winning score.
By and large, the Friars defense played well. Sean Morris and Mike Larsen excelled on the defensive line, and Tom Millison, Matt Fontana and Brandon Bettole held their own in the secondary against the Burrs’ talented collection of receivers. WC’s run offense was nonexistent (36 yards). The same could be said for Bonner’s rushing attack, which was held to 28 yards.
“These next two games, we’ve got to take care of business,” Coll said. “Carroll is a good team and Conwell-Egan is obviously a good team. We need something to roll with when we head into that O’Hara game (Nov. 5).”
Coll scored a touchdown off a blocked punt in the first quarter to give the Friars a 6-0 lead. In the second quarter, the Friars regained the lead when Shawn Harmon rumbled seven yards to pay dirt. West Catholic answered late in the first half when Dajone Averett made a 50-yard catch, fumbled the ball at the one and recovered the ball for a touchdown to tie things up at 12.
For the Friars, Raiburn was 13 of 21 passing for 113 yards. Hartley-Vittoria had four catches for 41 yards.