WHITEMARSH >> Speaking after the game, La Salle coach John Steinmetz pretty much summed it all up in two words: “Holy Moly.”
D’Andre Swift rushed 19 times for 275 yards and six touchdowns, then added another score on a reception, to lead St. Joe’s Prep past the Explorers 63-35 in a marathon of a Philadelphia Catholic League Red Division contest at blustery Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.
A career-best performance by the Georgia-bound Swift, along with a tough day for the La Salle defense, led to a commanding win for St. Joe’s, which improved to a perfect 5-0 in the Red Division and 7-0 overall.
“They’re really, really good offensively, but we didn’t play very well defensively,” Steinmetz said. “We just have to play better.”
Swift, back in a starter’s role since an ankle injury kept him out since Week Two, broke free for TD runs of 33, 21 and 10, helping the Hawks to build a 28-7 lead late in the second quarter.
“That’s what preparation can do,” Swift said of the offense scoring on four of its five first-half possessions. “But I couldn’t have done anything without the o-line.”
Swift’s touchdown runs got longer after the break: sprints of 76 and 62 yards, helping to push this one into the win column for St. Joe’s. Swift finished every long run by bursting into the end zone, sticking out his chest as if he were breaking an imaginary tape at the finish line.
“Just wanna finish every play,” said Swift, also a standout sprinter in the spring. “That’s always been my thing.”
Swift got into the end zone two more times in the fourth quarter, scoring on a four-yard run and also grabbing a 12-yard slant from quarterback Marquez McCray, giving Swift seven TDs for the afternoon.
And — having waited so long to get back on the field following the injury — he wasn’t ready to call it a day.
“I wanted to keep going. I didn’t want to come out of the game,” he said. “I wanted to keep going.”
Swift said he spent the last few weeks “just doing a lot of rehab, a lot of therapy, and just getting back into things.”
He’ll certainly provide a big boost for unbeaten Prep, which also got 9-of-18 passing and 163 yards from McCray, who lofted a perfect 51-yard strike to wide receiver Terrance Greene, the TD making it 35-7 at the half.
The Explorers (5-3, 4-1 PCL Red) gained big chunks on the ground, with Madden getting La Salle on the board with a 13-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, making it 21-7. Madden again scored early in the third and then — following an onside kick recovery — Joey Burnham crashed in from a yard out to bring the Explorers within 35-21.
But just two plays later, Swift raced away to his 76-yard score, and the Explorers could get no closer.
Madden carried the ball 28 times for 201 yards and scored three times, but La Salle was playing from behind all afternoon. The Explorer defense did force a fumble on Swift’s first carry of the day, but on the very next play, La Salle had a mix-up in the backfield and St. Joe’s Rayshad Wallace scooped up the loose ball and returned it 43 yards for a score, putting St. Joe’s ahead 7-0 and on its way.
La Salle racked up 471 yards of offense, but in a wild one Saturday, it wasn’t enough.
“Sy had 200 yards, which is great,” Steinmetz said. “But at the end of the day, we just have to play better defense.”
Top Photo: La Salle’s Tom Flavin grabs St. Joseph’s Preps’ D’Andre Swift and pushes him out of bounds during their game on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)