DOWNINGTOWN — Downingtown East’s defensive line was great, its offensive line was good and the result was another bruising, no-frills victory.
Friday, the hosting Cougars shook off a dozen penalties and some off-and-on rain to knock off West Chester East, 28-7, in the Ches-Mont National Division game.
Prior to the Vikings’ final drive in which both teams had backups in, the Cougars held them to minus-44 yards rushing on 24 attempts, largely in part to the front four getting to the quarterback six times and forcing quick passes the majority of the night.
“We have a lot of guys with quick feet and fast hands and we dominated,” Cougars senior Will Kiely said. “We played our football.”
The win essentially locks in a playoff berth for the Cougars (4-1 division, 7-2 overall), who will finish the regular season next week in the Battle of the Brandywine against Downingtown West with a first-round home game on the line.
Downingtown East was hardly threatened by the Vikings (1-4, 4-5), thanks to the play of its lines. The Cougars led 14-0 at halftime after a 38-yard catch and run by Jeremy Jennings from Bryce Lauletta, and a two-yard plunge by Jennings from the Wildcat formation.
West Chester East had minus-34 yards on the ground in the first half. While Vikings senior JD Carroll (six receptions, 81 yards) made some plays, quarterback JT Thompson rarely had time to make it to his second read with Kiely, Joey Janick, Shane Hogarth and Nica Hesel pinning their ears back for the Cougars every play.
“We felt if we could keep them from running the ball and force them to pass, we could have success,” Downingtown East coach Mike Matta said.
The Vikings’ starters only had 12 plays in Cougar territory, resulting in zero points and one interception in the end zone by Jennings.
“We had a hard time protecting the quarterback and a hard time opening any holes for the running backs,” Vikings’ coach Dave Gueriera said. “I think, overall, when times started getting rough our mental toughness faltered.”
Downingtown East had its fair share of issues, mainly in the area of discipline. The Cougars were penalized 12 times for 124 yards and starting offensive tackle, Cameron Krasley, was ejected due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Jennings had a 44-yard touchdown run called back on the Cougars’ opening drive of the game.
“We played well at times but we were pretty selfish and immature at times,” Matta said. “If we play like that (against West), we’re going to lose.”
The Vikings got their one productive drive on their final attempt. Following four kneel downs by the Cougars in the red zone, Vikings’ backup Pierre Marchant used a 56-yard run to set up a 17-yard sprint to pay dirt three plays later.
West Chester East hosts West Chester Henderson in the season finale in a game that has bragging rights and playoff seeding on the line. Henderson is a lock to make the Class 5A field, and the Vikings will probably qualify, win or lose.
“We bounced back well last week against Sun Valley after a tough loss to Downingtown West,” Gueriera said. “I think we have the intestinal fortitude to do since we’ve proved we can do that. We’ll be playing a hungry Henderson team so we’ll have to be ready for them.”