HORSHAM >> For two weeks, Upper Dublin had to sit and wait to get back on the football field.
What had the Cardinals stewing was the fact they had to wait 14 days to make up for their first loss of the season. Finally, the chance came Friday at Hatboro-Horsham and the Cardinals were ready to show what had hurt them against Plymouth-Whitemarsh wasn’t going to do it again.
Upper Dublin threw just three passes, four players rushed for at least 67 yards and the Cardinals churned out 399 yards on the ground as they pulled away late for a 42-21 win over the Hatters.
“The guys up front, the tight ends and the running backs blocked really well and we challenged them,” Cardinals coach Bret Stover said. “I’m proud of the way they answered us. We had to sit on that loss for two weeks and that’s not an easy thing to do.”
Mike Cottom led the way with a 140 yard night on the ground, more than a third of it coming on his 50 yard touchdown run for the game’s first score. Malik Bootman had three touchdowns and 80 yards while Naiim Huff ran for 87 yards and two scores in a big night for the running backs.
Of course, no running game occurs without a line to block for it, and Upper Dublin’s front was consistent in its ability to open up some holes. Considering some of the guys Hatboro-Horsham has on its front like Nick Chapman, Robert Fitzgerald and Chris Edmondson, that’s not a small feat.
UD quarterback Justin Horn, who went just 1-of-3 passing for three yards, also got in the ground game, gaining 67 yards on nine carries. Horn has shown an ability to run all season and Stover said the decision to throw so little was dictated by the strong winds on the field and the success the running game was having.
While the veteran UD coach said it was the fewest pass plays he’s called in his tenure with the Cardinals, the Hatters staff had plenty of respect for the Cardinals’ ground game.
“I think that’s a bit of a deceptive stat,” Hatters coach Mike Kapusta said. “They are a running team first and we knew that coming in. Credit to them, they have a stable of backs that are really good and they ran the ball really well and did the job up front.”
Likewise, Stover and his assistants knew the Hatters wouldn’t be an easy way to come off the two-week layoff. The UD coach noted Hatboro-Horsham’s youth in a lot of areas and said Kapusta and his staff have done a nice job with their players and he’s not looking forward to trying to slow the Hatters down the next few years.
Quarterback Chris Edwards threw for 151 yards and his receivers made some really nice plays, including a 32-yard catch by senior Brandon Crews over a Cardinal defender. Edwards’ best throw of the night was a 29-yard dart to Calvin Broaddus Jr for a touchdown that made it 28-21 with 10:25 left in the fourth quarter. For three quarters and that drive into the fourth, the Hatters hung right there with the Cardinals.
But the accumulation of some penalties and an inability to get some stops caught up to Hatboro-Horsham eventually.
“We had trouble stopping the run and that certainly was the difference in the game,” Kapusta said. “But our kids really fought hard, played four quarters hard and kept on fighting back. We just couldn’t quite get over the hump, a couple key penalties hurt us and when we got stopped, it’s tough to overcome that against a good team.”
The Hatters finish the season next week with Cheltenham and are looking to add an 11th game before they battle rival Upper Moreland on Thanksgiving. Kapusta had no issue with his team’s effort on Friday and feels like if his guys can bring that same kind of play next week, good things will happen for them.
Upper Dublin is going to be a top seed in the 5A playoff bracket and finishes its season with Upper Moreland.
Stover said his team had its two best days of practice all season Wednesday and Thursday of this week. After a day off to clear heads, the Cardinals got back at, pouring over film, taking the coaches’ criticism in stride and went out made those fixes.
“P-W beat us up front and that’s tough to swallow,” Stover said. “We wanted to come out and prove we could play better than that and tonight, we did that.”
What makes the Cardinals’ running game so strong is that it doesn’t rely on just one guy to do it all. In fact, UD wasn’t even at full strength on Friday, but it’s the success by committee approach that has UD where it is.
Each back does a little something the others don’t; they rotate carries and are each other’s biggest supporters.
“The best thing is that nobody cares who gets the score, nobody cares who gets the 20-yard gain or the 30-yard gain. When their number is called, they’re ready to go,” Stover said. “The cheer for each other and that’s what makes a great team. We don’t have any selfishness and our backfield can speak to that.”
UPPER DUBLIN 6 15 7 14 – 42
HATBORO-HORSHAM 0 14 0 7 – 21
UD – Mike Cottom 50 run (2-point fail) 3:55
UD – Malik Bootman 5 run (Justin Horn to Nick Sonetto) 8:01
HH – Anthony Kwiatanowski 3 run (Jin-Wook Kim kick) 5:20
UD – Bootman 46 run (Matt Shields kick) 3:44
HH – Chris Edwards 7 run (Kim kick) 1:02
UD – Naiim Huff 45 run (Shields kick) 2:49
HH – Edwards 29 pass to Calvin Broaddus Jr (Kim kick) 10:25
UD – Bootman 7 run (Shields kick) 4:31
UD – Huff 5 run (Shields kick) 1:21
1st downs 17 13
Rushes-Yards 48-399 28-149
Passing 1-3-0-0 10-23-1-0
Passing Yards 3 151
Total Yards 402 300
Penalties-Yards 7-70 8-65
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Punting 1-21 3-20.3
Rushing: UD – Mike Cottom 14-140, Naiim Huff 11-84, Justin Horn 9-67, Malik Bootman 9-80, George Weems 5-28; HH – Anthony Kwiatanowski 7-28, Adam Suder 9-50, Chris Edwards 9-49, Calvin Broaddus Jr 3-22
Passing: UD –Horn 1-3-0-0-3; Edwards 10-23-1-0-151
Receiving: UD – Huff 1-3; HH – Nick Chapman 2-38, Broaddus Jr 6-73, Suder 1-2, Brandon Crews 1-32, Kwiatanowski 1-6.
Top Photo: Upper Dublin’s Malik Bootman breaks out for a long run against Hatboro-Horsham during their game on Friday, Oct 21, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)