Lower Merion – Scoring touchdowns on each of their first four possessions, Lower Merion rolled to a 46-12 win against Springfield Township (Montco) at Arnold Field Friday.
The hosts did not have to punt until the third quarter, and held Springfield to only 68 total yards (rushing and passing) in the first half while building a 32-0 halftime lead.
“We were really focused as a team today,” said Lower Merion head coach Bryan Scopelliti. “We really got it going [in practice] this week, and our first half [performance] today was a full team victory.”
Lower Merion senior running back Elijah Smith, who scored the game’s first two touchdowns, said, “Everyone on our team gave 100 percent today. In our opener against Chichester [a 30-19 loss Aug. 25], we made little mental mistakes, guys were jumping offsides, and we learned from that [experience].”
Lower Merion jumped out to an 18-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. On LM’s second play from scrimmage, Smith broke free for a 63-yard touchdown run.
“Our offensive line opened up a big hole for me,” said Smith. “I saw the hole on the left, made one [Springfield] defender miss, cut to the left, and there was just one player left [on the way to the end zone].”
LM averaged nearly nine yards per carry (on 30 rushing attempts) Friday. Scopelliti credited senior left tackle Justin Wootton and senior left guard Will Savastani for leading the charge up front offensively.
The hosts’ second offensive drive of the game led to another touchdown. On fourth-one-one at the Springfield 35, Smith crashed through the middle for four yards and a first down; then LM senior quarterback Marek D’Alonzo hit junior wide receivers Jaden Helton and Ian Goodman for sizable gains down to the Spartans’ 2 yard line. Smith scored on a plunge up the middle to give the hosts a 12-0 lead.
Six plays later, Lower Merion junior defensive back Jalen Goodman intercepted a pass and returned it 64 yards for a touchdown to give the hosts an 18-0 lead with 57 seconds left in the first quarter.
With 3:38 to go before halftime, Lower Merion senior wide receiver Deion Davis exploded for a 51-yard touchdown reception from D’Alonzo to give the hosts a 32-0 lead. Davis broke open behind a Springfield defender, D’Alonzo put the ball right on the money, and Davis grabbed the pass without breaking stride and sprinted into the end zone.
“Deion does a great job for us even when he’s not catching the ball,” said Scopelliti of his 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior. “He’s always a scoring threat, and he draws defenders away from our other guys. We were able to make some adjustments based on Springfield’s coverage, and I thought we spread the ball around really well.”
Meanwhile, the Lower Merion defense held the Spartans scoreless for the first 38 minutes of the game, stopping many a Springfield runner at (or behind) the line of scrimmage.
“[Junior defensive end] Will House and [senior nose guard] Tahj Wheeler really got penetration today,” said Scopelliti. “It made it easier for the rest of our defense.”
Springfield head coach Chris Shelly told his young team after Friday’s game to hang in there, to keep plugging away.
“If our kids learn from this game, we will get better this season – there is no substitute for experience,” said Shelly, whose school did not field a varsity football team last fall. “We’re a young team, and I don’t like to make excuses but we’re a Class 3A team that’s a work in progress.”
In the fourth quarter, Springfield battled back for a couple of touchdowns, both of them on 70-yard scoring drives. Both touchdowns were engineered by junior quarterback Max Perry, who threw for one TD and ran for another.
“Max Perry continues to lead us in the right way,” said Shelly. “He grinded his way through the entire game – we’ll continue to follow his leadership.”
Perry kept the Spartans’ first touchdown drive alive when, on fourth-and-10 from the Springfield 47, he hit senior running back Brian Maienshein for an 18-yard pass reception. Later in the drive, senior running back Troy Williams broke free for a 22-yard gain. Perry capped the scoring drive with a 13-yard run into the end zone.
After Springfield broke the scoring ice to make it 32-6, Lower Merion got on the scoreboard three minutes later on a 10-yard touchdown pass from D’Alonzo to junior wide receiver Ian Goodman. The drive began when Lower Merion junior defensive back Jon Betts intercepted a pass and returned it to the Springfield 34 yard line.
The Spartans came back with another 70-yard scoring drive, highlighted by a 25-yard scoring strike from Perry to junior wide receiver Wilson Krewson. A key play on the drive was senior running back Amir Brockington’s 30-yard run.
With 1:07 left in the game, Lower Merion sophomore backup quarterback Rodgers Roberts broke free on a quarterback keeper on third-and-10 from the Springfield 40 yard line for a touchdown. Victor Fajardo’s subsequent extra point closed the game’s scoring.
Lower Merion 46, Springfield Township 12
Springfield 0 0 0 12 — 12
Lower Merion 18 14 0 14 — 46
LM – Smith 63 run (kick failed)
LM – Smith 2 run (pass failed)
LM – Goodman 64 interception return (kick failed)
LM – D’Alonzo 1 run (Fajardo kick)
LM – Davis 51 pass from D’Alonzo (Fajardo kick)
S – Perry 13 run (run failed)
LM – Ian Goodman 10 pass from D’Alonzo (Fajardo kick)
S – Krewson 25 pass from Perry (pass failed)
LM – Roberts 40 run (Faljardo kick)
TEAM STATISTICS S LM
First downs 10 12
Rushes-yards 29-117 30-268
Passing 9-27-2 8-22-0
Passing yards 91 117
Total yards 208 385
Punts 5-30.4 3-32.7
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 9-83 11-95
Rushing — S: Stepney 6-4; Brockington 1-30; Perry 4-13, 1 TD; Maienshein 1–6; Williams 12-68; Jamison 1-2, Page 2-7, Yi 1–1, Selzer 1-3. LM: Smith 7-103 2 TDs; Ian Goodman 1-0; Helton 3-22; D’Alonzo 3-6, 1 TD; Williams 6-35; Jalen Goodman 1-18; Hahn 6-40; Roberts 3-44, 1 TD.
Passing — S: Perry 9-27-2, 91 yards, 1 TD. LM: D’Alonzo 8-22-0, 117 yards, 2 TD
Receiving — S: Bornholdt 1-8; Stepney 2–5; Williams 2-13; Shackleford 1-2, Krewson 2-55, 1 TD; Maienshien 1-18. LM: Helton 2-28; Ian Goodman 2-31, 1 TD; Jalen Goodman 1-3; Davis 3-55, 1 TD.
Interceptions — LM: Jalen Goodman, Betts.