BRISTOL TWP. – Conwell-Egan Catholic (CEC) entered Saturday’s home battle against Bonner-Prendergast in control of its own destiny and yet, Eagles fans left Truman High’s Henry Morgan Stadium shaking their heads.
Starting the gridiron duel with the Friars in second place in the Philadelphia Catholic League Blue Division in second place, Egan (5-4) was going up against fifth-place Bonner-Prendie (3-4) in what was its last regular season contest.
Not only did the Eagles lose the football game, more importantly, they lost their composure. And they lost it in a big way.
The starting quarterback, Kendall Jones – who also plays corner on defense – was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct on the Friars’ final scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
Less than a minute later, with Egan driving into opposing territory facing a 20-7 deficit, senior running back Kyree Bronson took a few swings at a Bonner player and was ejected.
That kind of penalty carries with it a one-game suspension and after the skirmish with the Friars, CEC head coach Jack Techtmann wasn’t even sure if he would have Bronson back the first weekend in November for the Eagles’ District 12-AAA playoff game against the winner of Kip Dubois/DelVal Charter.
“We got outplayed up front and we got frustrated,” said Techtmann. “We lost our composure.
“We knew going in they had nothing to lose; they were going to do anything they could to win this football game.
“Coming off the (Cardinal) O’Hara loss, we didn’t have a good week of practice and you play like you practice.”
“We beat ourselves,” added CEC sophomore Patrick Garwo. “We came out and thought we were going to walk over these guys.
“We can’t beat ourselves like this – penalties, turnovers, roughness after the whistle.
“When we come out in the playoffs, we have to be ready for any team and don’t take them lightly.”
The way the battle began, Eagle fans probably thought the home team was going to run away with it. Taking possession of the ball at its own 42, Egan assembled a nine-play, 58-yard scoring drive, capped off by a 7-yard touchdown run by Garwo.
For the next eight possessions – four for each side, neither team did anything.
Three penalties assessed the Eagles on a drive late in the first half cost CEC field position. A punt with 1:02 remaining in the second quarter gave the Friars the ball at Egan’s 35 yard line.
But Bonner then lost 11 yards when junior linebacker Danny Bentley came up with a sack. On third-and 21 from their own 46, the Friars biggest play of the half came on a busted play.
B-P quarterback Evan Raiburn fumbled the snap, picked it up then tossed it downfield to a wide open senior running back Tom Millison. Ruled down at the one, Sean Harmon took the ball to paydirt on the next play. A 2-point pass failed so Egan went into the locker room with a 7-6 edge.
Coming back from the break, the Friars handed the ball off to senior RB Joseph Hartley-Vittoria, who broke through the line and raced 71 yards to the house. An ensuing pitch from Hartley-Vittoria to Harmon on the 2-point conversion put Bonner on top, 14-7.
Try as they might, the Eagles could not get the ball into the end zone, despite taking possession of the ball three times in the second half in Friars territory. Egan also failed to take advantage of an interception by freshman Terome Mitchell at Bonner’s 30 yard line on the Friars’ second possession of the third quarter.
But Bonner also was having trouble advancing the ball with the Friars punting on their next two touches.
With only minutes to go in the game, Bonner broke through the midfield marker on some strong rushing by Hartley-Vittoria, who slashed through the now-tired Eagle defense on seven touches including gainers of 15, 11 and 10 yards, though not necessarily in that order.
It was right around that time that Kendall was benched in favor of backup QB Alex Goldsby.
With Goldsby marching the Egan offense down the field, Goldsby moved the offense to the Friar 25. Then one personal foul on the Eagles moved the ball back to the 40, then two more – called when Bronson’s emotions erupted – pushed CEC out of range for a final score.
Now, everyone’s wondering if the Eagles can recover in time to make a state playoff run.
Part of the problem is there is no game next week, not with Egan’s next opponent, Neumann-Goretti, suspending operations for the season. Not only does that inhibit the team’s ability to put this loss behind them. It could very well mean that Bronson will be withheld from the Eagles’ District 12 playoff duel against the winner of Kip Bubois/DelVal Charter.
NOTES: Egan honored 14 of its seniors before the game and the 1966 Bishop Egan football team that captured both Philadelphia Catholic League and City Championships. Led by quarterback Pancho Micir, that team was ranked first in the Keystone State and No. 5 in the nation.
Contact Steve Sherman at ssherman@21st-Centurymedia.com or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter
Bonner-Prendergast 20, Conwell-Egan Catholic 7
(Oct. 22 at Truman)
Conwell-Egan Catholic 7 0 0 0 – 7
Bonner-Prendergast 0 6 8 7 – 20
CE — Patrick Garwo 7-yd run (Jack Barreras kick)
BP — Sean Harmon 1-yd. run (pass failed)
BP — Joseph Hartley-Vittoria 71-yd. run (Harmon run)
BP — Tom Millison 14-yd. pass from Evan Raiburn (kick failed)