Conwell-Egan quarterback Kendall Jones carries the football against DelVal Charter in District 1/12 Class AAA sub-regional final Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Germantown Supersite. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
PHILADELPHIA >> The way the District 1/12 Class AAA sub-regional final began at the Germantown Supersite, it was hard to imagine the eventual outcome. Conwell-Egan scored a touchdown on its second possession for a quick 7-0 lead in the first quarter then doubled its edge with a sweet 34-yard touchdown toss from senior quarterback Kendall Jones to classmate Kyree Bronson early in the second.
Little did anyone know at the time, the fourth-seeded Eagles would not reach the end zone again as No. 2 seed Delaware Valley Charter – whom CEC topped 14-12 two weeks ago for its first City Championship in decades – tallied 26 unanswered points to advance to a PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal matchup vs. Notre Dame Green Pond next weekend at a time and place that is to be determined.
“They just put a lot of pressure on us right at the line of scrimmage,” said Conwell-Egan head coach Jack Techtmann. “Their big people up front got into our gaps and their linebackers came firing.
“We tried to punch it outside and we threw the ball a little bit, tried to loosen them up.
“They just played better than us in the second half; they’re a good football team.
Turnovers played a crucial part in the loss for Egan: the Eagles turned the ball over three times in this one while the opponent displayed near-perfect ball security.
“We beat ourselves with turnovers on offense; they won the turnover battle so they got the better outcome,” said CEC sophomore RB Patrick Garwo. “We’ve had problems with that the whole year and that’s been our biggest problem.”
While it didn’t determine the outcome, a reversed call by the official sure did play a part in swinging momentum in the Warriors’ favor. On the kickoff immediately following Bronson’s TD, Egan elected to kick onsides.
At first, it looked like good strategy, especially when Bronson recovered the ball along the right sideline and returned it to the DVC 40 yard line. Upon further review, officials decided that the ball never hit the ground before Bronson plucked it out of the air. Further infuriating the Eagles’ faithful, they gave the ball to the Warriors at Egan’s 39 yard line.
“That was ridiculous,” said Garwo. “I don’t really know what the ref’s call was but that was clear – Kyree had the ball and we just got ripped off on that one.”
Fortunately for CEC, the Eagle defense stiffened and forced a turnover on downs at their own 20-yard line. But a fumble by Garwo gave the ball back to DelVal five plays later at the Egan 30 yard line. From there, it took the Warriors just five plays to reach the end zone with quarterback Charles Britt walking the ball in from four yards out.
Still, the Eagles held a 14-6 lead going into the half. Surely, Egan would regroup in the locker room and come out a lot stronger in the second half.
Turns out, the only team that looked tougher after the intermission was Delaware Valley, and right from the start. DVC junior Winston Downing returned the second-half kickoff more than 53 yards to the CEC 22.
From there, it took the Warriors but one play to put the ball in the end zone with Britt finding senior Shaheed Ross in the right corner of the end zone for a 22-yard TD pass just 19 seconds into the third quarter.
Again, Egan held onto a 2-point lead, ahead 14-12, the score reminiscent of the Eagles’ victory over DelVal in the District 12-AAA championship just two weeks earlier.
Initially, the Egan defense stiffened after DelVal closed the gap to two points in the second half. Unfortunately, the Eagles’ offense continued to falter and that left the defense out on the field for far too long.
Eventually, the Warriors just wore Egan out, especially in the fourth quarter. DelVal did the same thing a week earlier in a 36-13 triumph over New Hope-Solebury in the District 1/12 sub-regional semifinal.
The Warriors took their first lead of the game only moments after DVC junior Azyear Sutton-Walker – DelVal’s leading rusher with 144 yards on 12 carries – blasted through the Eagles’ line for a big 55-yard gainer all the way down to the one yard line. Britt punched it in on the very next play.
Now trailing 18-14, the Eagles advanced the ball near midfield but no further, turning the ball over on downs at DVC’s 47 yard line.
On first down, DelVal senior RB Zamir Davis sealed Egan’s fate when he raced 53 yards off left tackle for another score that put the Warriors on top 26-14, the final score. DelVal initially missed the extra point but an encroachment penalty on CEC gave the opponent the chance to go for two and they converted.
“We didn’t control the ball as much as we should have in the second half,” said Techtmann. “We were gambling at the end there, trying to penetrate and catch guys in the backfield.
“They caught a couple gaps and just blew through us.”
For the Eagles the loss ends their 2016 at 8-4. For first team All-Catholic standouts Keanan Baines, Brandon Cohen and Bronson, this would be their last game ever in and Egan uniform.
“It’s tough. We wanted to come out on top,” said Baines. “We all played our hearts out and left it all on the field.
“It’s going to take time for this to all settle in but we’ll be alright.”
Two weeks earlier, the Eagles emerged a 2-point victor over the Warriors on this very same field. And they did it without Garwo (rib injury) and Bronson, who was serving a one-game suspension.
With those two returning to the backfield, how could Conwell-Egan falter?
In the end, it was not to be.
DelVal Charter 26, Charter Conwell-Egan 14
(Nov. 19 at Germantown Supersite)
CONWELL-EGAN 7 7 0 0 – 14
DELVAL CHARTER 0 6 6 14 – 26
CE — Patrick Garwo 1 run (Jack Barreras kick)
CE — Kyree Bronson 35 pass from Kendall Jones (Barreras kick)
DVC — Charles Britt 4 Run (run failed)
DVC — Shaheed Ross 22 pass from Charles Britt (pass failed)
DVC — Britt 1 run (kick failed)
DVC — Zamir Davis 53 run (Azyear Sutton-Walker run)