Villanova – In front of several thousand fans under the lights at Villanova Stadium, Malvern Prep opened its 2017 football campaign with a 27-7 win against St. Augustine Prep (N.J.) Friday evening.
The Friars, ranked sixth in the PA Prep Live Top 20 football ratings, used pinpoint passing by junior quarterback Drew Gunther in the first half and solid rushing by O’Shaan Allison in the second half to score a touchdown in each of the four periods.
Meanwhile, Malvern Prep’s defense held St. Augustine scoreless until there were only four minutes left in the contest with the Friars leading 27-0.
Gunther was on fire in the first half, completing 15 of 19 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns. He spread the wealth, completing passes to nine different receivers in the first half.
On the Friars’ first drive of the game, a 12-play, 78-yard march to the end zone, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound field general completed five passes for 67 yards, the final throw a 28-yard strike to junior wide receiver Ryan Iacone in the right corner of the end zone.
“Drew was awesome out there tonight – he made some great [on-field] decisions,” said Malvern Prep head coach Dave Gueriera. “He does a good job reading defenses.”
On Malvern’s second drive of the game, the Friars scored again, this time on a 12-play, 81-yard drive that culminated with a 19-yard touchdown pass by Gunther to junior wide receiver Quincy Watson, who broke several tackles as he ran along the right sideline to paydirt.
Gunther said, “I just tried to stay poised [tonight]. We have a bunch of explosive receivers who can take it to the house.”
The Friars went into halftime with a 13-0 lead, then changed their offensive strategy in the second half.
“In the first half, we took what [St. Augustine] gave us, which was our passing game,” said Gueriera. “In the second half, we wanted to run the ball more, control the clock. We were running two-tight-end formations, trying to power it [on offense].”
In the second half, Allison took over, finding holes and breaking through tackles for one solid gain after another. He ran four consecutive times to start the second half, gaining a total of 35 yards to the St. Augustine 45 yard line, then Gunther hit senior wide receiver Kevin Boyle in stride down the right sideline for a 45-yard touchdown and a 20-0 lead.
At the end of the third quarter, Malvern Prep started a drive at the Friar 44, then gave the ball to Allison four consecutive times, and the 5-foot-10, 195-pound senior burst up the middle for gains of 13, 20, 18 and 5 yards, the last one good for a touchdown six seconds into the fourth quarter to give the Friars a 27-0 lead. Allison finished the game with 139 yards on 19 carries.
Friday night marked a memorable return to game action by Allison, who missed the last six contests of the season last year after suffering an ankle fracture.
Allison said, “In the first half tonight, I was running too upright and was bouncing off our linemen’s blocks to the outside. In the second half, I followed our blockers more. Our offensive line did a great job – if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be [as a runner].”
Gueriera said, “O’Shaan had some great inside runs tonight. And his runs softened up the inside for our passing attack.”
The Malvern coach also praised senior left guard Joe Basiura and junior left tackle Jake Hornibrook as the leaders up front for the Friars’ ground attack Friday night.
Defensively, Malvern Prep shut out St. Augustine for the first 44 minutes of the game, and both junior defensive back Ryan Iacone and junior inside linebacker Keith Maguire made key interceptions deep in Friar territory.
“We were trying to limit the big play,” said Gueriera. “We wanted to keep Shamere Collins and [wide receiver] Xavier File underneath.”
The Malvern Prep coach praised his linebackers – Maguire and OLBs Cole McCabe (a Bucknell commit) and Quincy Watson.
“[Watson] was making big hits everywhere tonight,” said Guereria. “And [senior defensive tackle] Ryan Betz was our anchor up front – did a great job against their run game.”
Malvern Prep 27, St. Augustine Prep 7
St. Augustine Prep 0 0 0 7 — 7
Malvern Prep 6 7 7 7 — 27
MP – Iacone 28 pass from Gunther (kick failed)
MP – Watson 19 pass from Gunther (Constantini kick)
MP – Boyle 45 pass from Gunther (Constantini kick)
MP – Allison 5 run (Reilly kick)
SA – File 9 pass from Allen (Fondacaro kick)
First downs 14 16
Rushes-yards 17-66 30-147
Passing 18-28-2 16-24-0
Passing yards 166 211
Total yards 232 358
Punts 3-32.7 3-24.3
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 8-53 8-63
Rushing — SA: Collins 4-31; Robinson 7-9; Allen 2-9; Smith 3-21; O’Chuida 1–4. MP: Allison 19-139, 1 TD; Wtason 3-16; Gunther 2–5; Gueriera 3-5; Boyle 1-2; McCabe 2–10.
Passing — SA: Allen 17-26-2, 151 yards, 1 TD; O’Chuida 1-2-0, 15 yards. MP: Gunther 16-23-0, 211 yards, 3 TDs; White 0-1-0, 0 yards.
Receiving — SA: Collins 9-85; Rhea 1-13; File 4-33, 1 TD; Robinson 1-1, DeCoteau 2-19; Shorter 1-15. MP: McCabe 2-14; McCahon 4-50; Iacone 1-28, 1 TD; Boyle 2-47, 1 TD; Garrity 1-13; White 2-20; Watson 1-19, 1 TD; Maguire 2-22; Allison 1–2.
Interceptions — MP: Iacone, Maguire.