THORNBURY >> It wasn’t the way most quarterbacks would have handled it.
Once the snap flew through his hands and landed on the Glen Mills grass ten or so yards behind him, Bishop Shanahan quarterback Dan DiBeneditto sprinted over to recover it. Instead of falling on it, though, DiBeneditto started making magic.
The Eagles’ senior scooped it up, evaded the chaotic Battlin’ Bulls rush and somehow found fullback Liam Dearing for a completion. That would have been good enough, a great save of a broken play, but Dearing wasn’t done. He rumbled downfield, got a block and outran the secondary for a 74-yard touchdown.
It was the perfect offensive tone-setter for Shanahan, which scored four touchdowns of at least 32 yards to fuel a 28-16 nonleague win over Glen Mills Thursday.
“Their corners and safeties (were) drawn right back in, and that left nobody in the secondary and left me wide open,” Dearing said. “Once I caught it, I had one guy to beat, and my teammate, Tom Waite, blocked him. I kept looking back, but I knew I was gone.”
Ka-Ron Thomas took the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a Glen Mills touchdown, and Quadir Gibson’s two-point conversion gave the Bulls their lone lead of the night at 8-7. But it was clear to Shanahan that it was going to be able to make big plays.
DiBeneditto made sure of it. He connected with Andrew Smyth on a bubble screen score from 35 yards out, then later connected with Smyth again. This time, the slot receiver darted up the seam past an aggressive Glen Mills defense and found himself open for a 38-yard score.
To cap things off, DiBeneditto hooked up with Dan Bathon for a 32-yard bomb on a fourth down late in the fourth quarter.
“We noticed that they were bringing the house a lot, blitzing linebackers, so we tried to fit some of those passes underneath the safeties and behind the linebackers,” DiBeneditto said. “On the second Smyth touchdown, we saw that the outside ‘backer was lined up on the receiver and blitzing, so we knew to get (Smyth) the ball right away and let him run downfield.”
While Glen Mills’ aggressiveness led to its downfall in the passing game, it helped clean up Shanahan’s running game. Defensive back William Dark was usually in the middle of it all, shooting down from his free safety spot to lay thunderous hits on the Eagles’ backs.
“The first look is to take away the run,” Dark said. “My main priority is to play the run first, then I play the pass. I love the feeling, especially when I get to explode through the player. In the pass game, guys were just getting open. It was a little bit of our corners not playing their zones, so I had to step up and play it all, but we’re going to get better.”
Of course, it didn’t help Glen Mills’ cause that it couldn’t get anything going offensively. Gibson thundered his way to a 38-yard scamper on the first play from scrimmage, then the Battlin’ Bulls didn’t gain another first down until 9:37 left in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Tarik Bey added a 65-yard touchdown run, but it was too little, too late.
“We’re going to turn it around,” Gibson said of his 0-2 Bulls. “We’re going to get better. It’s progress as the season goes on. We’ve just got to keep working hard.”