JENKINTOWN >> At 5-foot-3, Jenkintown’s Albert Koniers isn’t a big guy.
He gave up 10 inches and 40 pounds to Nativity BVM’s Ralph Muldrow, who measured 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds. Koniers also didn’t give up an inch when he appeared out of nowhere to stuff Muldrow on a two-point try with 1:29 left on the clock and his Drakes up by just two.
Koniers got the stop and Jenkintown got to breathe as it ran out the clock in a season-opening 20-18 win on a rain-soaked Saturday afternoon.
“I thought that kid was gliding in there,” Jenkintown coach Tony Owens said. “It was a hole you could drive a tractor-trailer through and out of nowhere Albert Koniers comes up and makes the play.”
It wasn’t a pretty effort for Jenkintown, but that was expected. With an inexperienced roster, the Drakes needed as many reps as they could get in the preseason and unfortunately weren’t able to get them when they had to cancel their second scrimmage due to a lack of players.
Jenkintown did have a couple things going for it that helped overcome that lack of game experience. Firstly was that knack for making plays at key junctures and second was the play of senior captain Pat Morrin at quarterback.
Morrin, in his first year playing quarterback, threw for 123 yards and two touchdowns. His 41-yard bomb to Adam Giammanco with 25.5 seconds left in the first half turned the tide of the game and his 25-yard dart to Giammanco ended up as the game-winner.
“It was a lot of senior motivation today,” Morrin said. “We have a lot of younger guys and we had to get them prepared for the game, get them ready for varsity football and what it is. We showed what we can do, but we have a lot of work to do, don’t get me wrong. I still think we did pretty good.”
The Drakes got a big break early in the game after they forced a punt and a botched snap led to BVM’s punter falling on the ball at his own four-yard line. One play later, Koniers raced in for a score and Jenkintown had a lead.
For most of the rest of the first half however, it was all Nativity. Drakes players didn’t finish tackles, the lines didn’t get enough push and a couple of defensive breakdowns led to big conversions as the Green Wave built a 13-6 lead.
After a bad spot on a fourth down run by Morrin stopped Jenkintown, the Drakes shored up on defense and got the ball back with 2:34 left in the first half. A crucial pass interference flag kept the drive alive on a fourth-down play, then a second flag on Nativity gave the Drakes a first down.
Morrin then hit Giammanco down the left sideline with a perfect pass for the go-ahead score.
“Pat played really well, threw the ball really well, just toughed it out and got us some good yards,” Owens said. “He’s going to be one of our horses. I wanted to throw more, but we had some bad field position and I didn’t want to stop the clock along with the two-shell formation they had, it had the safeties playing almost one over two.”
Jenkintown went from going into halftime dejected to a team with all the momentum on its side.
“It’s exactly what we needed to see,” Morrin said. “We had to come out strong and show what we could do. It’s what we talked about at halftime, this game was ours to have. They were coming to our house, we needed to start off right.”
After Jenkintown scored on the opening drive of the second half, neither team had much going until a long punt return gave the Green Wave the ball at the Drakes’ 38 with 3:50 left. Nativity BVM converted a 4th-and-8 with a 16-yard pass to the 20.
Two plays later, Morrin broke through the line and forced Green Wave quarterback Ryan McDonald to throw up a wounded duck. The foul weather, which consisted of a heavy rain at that point, was perfect for the foul ball, which found its way to Muldrow, who went the rest of the way to tie the game.
The outcome left Morrin on his knees in disbelief, but he quickly picked himself up and helped set up the defense before Koniers made the game-saving tackle.
“Nobody had their head down and if they did, someone was right on top of them to tell them to get their head up,” Morrin said. “It was a ton of motivation and a lot of heart. That’s what we need and what we have.”
Jenkintown will enjoy a few days off for the holiday before getting back to work at practice before starting BAL play against Delco Christian.
“We have a body of work to look at now,” Owens said. “We didn’t play our best but we won so hopefully these guys see they can only get better. That’s what we’re hoping for.”