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Casee, Lansdale Catholic run past Neumann-Goretti

LOWER GWYNEDD >> Lansdale Catholic’s offensive line cleared the path to a happy Homecoming, and running back Matt Casee kept sprinting his way to the end zone.

“Once you just see it,” Casee said of the open field, “you know all you have to do is run. The offensive line did their part and I did mine.”

Casee’s three touchdown runs helped lead the way to an overwhelming performance by the Crusaders, a 41-8 victory over rival Neumann-Goretti on a chilly Saturday evening at Wissahickon High School.

Bob Raines--Digital First Media Lansdale Catholic's Jake Doheny sheds Neumann-Goretti's Damien Gabrielle Oct. 15, 2016.

Lansdale Catholic’s Jake Doheny sheds Neumann-Goretti’s Damien Gabrielle during their game on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

“It feels good. We knew that we had to work hard this week and this was one that we really needed,” Casee said of the win, which improved LC to 2-3 in the Philadelphia Catholic League Blue Division.

“We really needed it. We’re trying to win out.”

The Crusaders came out running, with quarterback Michael Basilii reeling off gains of seven, 20 and 24 yards before Casee burst into the end zone from four yards out, quickly putting the Crusaders in front 7-0.

Just like that, the two-game shutout streak was over for the LC offense.

“I was very proud of the way we came out,” Crusaders coach Tom Kirk said. “The linemen did a nice job and we were spreading things around between the backs and quarterback. Offensively we had been struggling and needed to score points.

“We tried to just go back to some basics, running the ball and doing some things well.”

The Crusaders scored again on their third series of the contest, with Casee going around the right side and breaking away for a 29-yard score and a 14-0 LC lead. After a one-yard scoring plunge by Jake Doheny early in the second quarter, Casee (6 carries, 70 yards) scored his third touchdown — this one from six yards out — to make it 28-0 LC.

“He’s a terrific player,” Kirk said of Casee, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound junior. “In our passing game, he’s a very good receiver and you saw tonight — just as a sheer runner — he can not only run but he can run away from people.

“And that’s an important thing for us, because we don’t have great team speed, but with him coming out and playing the way he did, it gives us a nice option.”

Bob Raines--Digital First Media Lansdale Catholic's Jake Doheny finds running room against Neumann-Goretti Oct. 15, 2016.

Lansdale Catholic’s Jake Doheny finds running room against Neumann-Goretti during their game on Friday, Oct. 15, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Basilii’s 16-yard touchdown run increased the margin to 35-0 and enforced the mercy rule before halftime. Backup quarterback Mike Dutkiewicz contributed to the scoring, battling his way in on a three-yard sneak to make it a 41-0 Crusader advantage at the break.

An offensive line that includes 6-foot, 240-pound senior guard Nolan Dougherty had opened enough room for the Crusaders to gain 309 yards on the ground — just in the first half.

Meanwhile, the Crusader defense didn’t allow the Saints (0-7, 0-4 PCL Blue) to get much of anything going, limiting the visitors to just 57 yards of offense in the opening two quarters.

“We wanted to take their quarterback out of it early,” Kirk said of containing Goretti QB Sal Emma, as the defense limited him to just 2-of-8 passing in the first half. “(Goretti’s) short so many guys and battling injuries. I was watching them last week and I admired the way they played.

“They kept coming, kept coming — they have more speed than we do, so you just have to go out and make it as difficult for them early on as possible. So I was very proud of our defense, coming out with the intensity that they did.”

Back-to-back plays by Mason Hall — a tackle for no gain and then a batted pass for an incompletion — helped the Crusader defense force a three-and-out late in the first quarter, enabling the LC offense to keep things rolling.

With a running clock in the second half, Kieran Johnson’s tackle in the end zone for a safety and an 11-yard touchdown run by Aiden Brown for Goretti provided the only points.

LC (2-5) now gets ready for a Friday night game at Haverford.

“We have two games left and we’re not mathematically eliminated yet, so until that happens we’re gonna keep hope that maybe there’s a chance that we can get into the district playoffs,” Kirk said.

Top Photo:  Lansdale Catholic quarterback Peter McHugh hands off to Brian Allen during the Crusaders’ game against Neumann-Goretti on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2015. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

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