LANGHORNE >> Although Roman Catholic in some ways did a lot to beat itself, the Neshaminy High football team’s defense did look pretty good on Friday night, Aug. 25.
As for the offense, well, not so much.
Despite picking up only one first down of the non-penalty variety after the first quarter, Neshaminy still managed to beat the Philadelphia Catholic League team, 14-7, in front of an excellent opening-night crowd on Heartbreak Ridge.
Although its offense did virtually nothing after an excellent opening drive, in the end, it didn’t matter because Neshaminy’s defense refused to crack in the second half.
It also produced the winning score when Marcus Griffin jumped a flat pattern early in the third quarter and returned his interception 25 yards for a pick six.
Griffin’s TD put Neshaminy back on top, 14-7, and from there, it was a matter of the defense standing tall, despite often being in a bad spot in terms of field position.
It also got some help from Roman Catholic, which appeared on the verge of tying the score again in the third quarter after standout Ryan Burton ripped off a 50-yard run on a draw play deep into Redskin territory.
Following a holding call, Roman Catholic then had a first down on the Neshaminy 3-yard line, following a 12-yard burst up the middle. It was here where the game turned as Roman botched a simple center exchange, Neshaminy recovered and the Cahillites never got closer to the Neshaminy end zone than the 29 yard line again.
What was a bit strange was Neshaminy’s offense did come out very strong with a game-opening 11-play, 66-yard drive that featured some hard running by Mike Crezsenzo and a 31-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Brody McAndrew to standout Oleh Manczyk.
When Cresenszo capped off the drive with a 1-yard plunge and Neshaminy forced a couple of punts, it looked like it might be a comfortable evening for the Skins.
Guess again as the visitors from Center City Philadephia switched to a Power-I and were able to take it to Neshaminy up the gut behind the hard running of Burton. This resulted in a 99-yard TD drive that took 18 plays, chewed up over 10 minutes of the second quarter clock and was capped by a 2-yard run by quarterback Jeff Grosso.
Roman Catholic now had the momentum on its side and also received the ball to start the second half. For some reason, however, it scrapped the Power I and came out throwing in the second half. Bad idea as all it led to was incompletions and Griffin’s winning interception.
Another thing that was a bit hard to understand was why Roman Catholic did not give Burton more touches. He only had two touches after the half, one of which resulted in the 50-yard gain.
Considering he was marking his first varsity start, McAndrew did a solid job and was able to hook up with Manzyk on several completions. The big source of concern was Neshaminy’s inability to run the ball after the first quarter, despite returning virtually its entire offensive line.
Creszenzo was the workhorse with 20 carries, but this resulted in only 44 yards as Neshaminy was held to under 75 rushing yards as a team and was limited to 63 yards in the air against a Roman Catholic team that is not considered one of the big boys in the PCL.
TOP PHOTO: Neshaminy junior Oleh Manzyk (8). right, hauls in a pass for the Skins, defended by Roman Catholic strong safety Rodney Michel. (Courtesy J.S. Garber/For 21st-Century Media)
Neshaminy 14, Roman Catholic 7
(Aug. 25 at Neshaminy)
Roman (0-1) 0 7 0 0 — 7
Neshaminy (1-0) 7 0 7 0 — 14
N — Crescenzo 1 run (Leonhauser kick)
RC — Grosso 2 run (Flaherty kick)
N — Griffin 25 int. return (Leonhauser kick)
Contact Rick Fortenbaugh at firstname.lastname@example.org OR @RickFort7 on Twitter