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McDermott shines as Raiders clinch playoff berth

RADNOR >> Even after Friday night’s game had ended, Pat McDermott was still trying to comprehend how he had pulled it off.

With Penncrest beginning to creep back into the game in the third quarter, the Radnor quarterback drove his team into Lions’ territory. On third-and-six, McDermott took the shotgun snap, ducked under two Penncrest pass rushers and found receiver Charlie Connolly with a 29-yard touchdown strike.

It was the signature play from Radnor’s 28-7 Central League victory over Penncrest, which clinched the Raiders a spot in the district playoffs. McDermott, who completed 9 of 12 passes for 158 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, was shocked at what he had done.

“Honestly, I have no idea how it happened. I saw some pressure coming from the left side, stepped up and did what I could,” McDermott said. “I saw (Charlie) in the end zone, and we have a lot of chemistry together.”

McDermott’s play came with 7:41 left to play and halted any momentum Penncrest enjoyed after halftime. Trailing 14-0 at the break, the Lions cut the deficit to seven after quarterback Chris Mills found Shane Breckenridge for an 11-yard touchdown followed by an interception by corner John Franz. But Penncrest (3-7 , 2-7 league) was unable to turn the interception into points and McDermott’s spectacular play ended any shot of a comeback. Lions head coach Rick Stroup noted McDermott’s play was a backbreaker for his team, which surrendered 317 yards of total offense.

“We drove right down and scored, then we had them but didn’t make the play on defense,” Stroup said. (McDermott) “scrambled around and threw it for a touchdown.”

Radnor (4-6, 3-5) was able to have success through the air due to its running game paying off on early downs. Isaiah Coates scored the first points of the game on a 20-yard run with 2:25 left in the first quarter, and Jack Horvath led the Raiders with 81 yards on 21 carries.

Radnor head coach Tom Ryan feels his team is hitting his stride at the right time.

“I thought we played a great first half, then came together in the second and that’s what I’m really proud of,” Ryan said. “We’re starting to get back to the team I thought we could be.”

The Raiders defense limited Penncrest running back Caleb Mahalik to only 29 yards, a week after he tallied 251 against Lower Merion. Mahalik still ended up as the Lions leading rusher as they totaled just 78 yards on the ground. Radnor’s season will continue and Ryan attributes it to McDermott’s play in the third quarter.

“That gave us some breathing room and it made it a little bit easier to finish the game out,” Ryan said.

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