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Late stop helps Bishop McDevitt top Cheltenham

CHELTENHAM >> As the final minute wound off the clock, the Bishop McDevitt faithful began a three-word chant.

“Brick by brick.”

It’s the mantra of second-year head coach Mike Watkins. It means build slowly and surely, do everything right and when the project is finished, it will be worth the effort and wait. Friday night, the bricks were all in place as the Royal Lancers picked up a major win.

Thanks to a goal-line stuff on a two-point try, McDevitt topped host Cheltenham 14-13 to improve to 2-0 on the season. It was also the Lancers’ first win over Cheltenham in nine years.

“Listen, I knew this team was going to do it,” McDevitt sophomore quarterback Lonnie Price said. “In the huddle I said if we bring intensity and energy, we’ve got it. If we work as a team and everybody does their job, everybody has one job and if they do that job and we execute, we’re going to get it.”

For the Panthers, it was a brutal ending to a strong fourth quarter that finally saw things start to come together for first-year head coach Ryan Nase. A bit listless offensively for three periods, Cheltenham rode senior quarterback Jordan Gyabaah to two gutsy touchdown drives.

The second drive, which Gyabaah capped with a seven-yard touchdown after  runs of 23 and 29 yards, saw the Panthers get within 14-13 with 1:20 left in the game. Nase said he considered going for two anyway, but after a penalty flag on the PAT kick, he decided to put the ball in his senior quarterback’s hands.

“We put the ball in our senior quarterback’s hands all half and he did a great job, so we felt we should do it one more time,” Nase said. “Credit to McDevitt, they knew what we were going to do and clogged up the middle and guessed the right side. I told (Gyabaah) if we get the chance again, I’m doing it again and I want the ball in his hands.”

It hasn’t been an easy start to the season for Cheltenham, after a 28-0 shutout in the opener and Friday’s defeat coupling with a handful of mounting injuries. Nase, however, saw a lot from his guys in the second half against McDevitt.

Gyabaah was one of the guys banged up on Friday night, but he kept going out to the huddle and leading his team down the field.

“He wouldn’t let us take him out of the game,” Nase said. “For him to have a half like that where he did it with his arm and his legs, it showed the guts all these seniors have. We’re moving in the right direction, we’re not there yet, and we still have to work on doing a lot of the little things right more often, but we are moving in the right direction.”

McDevitt relied on a fired-up defense and its two standout underclassmen workhorses on offense. Freshman tailback John Luke Peaker has turned in two excellent games so far, rushing for 176 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries Friday night. Sophomore Lonnie Rice has been a strong complement at quarterback, rushing for 75 yards and the game’s first score against Cheltenham.

Of course, neither could do it without an offensive line and that’s where Watkins’ brick-laying has most

paid off. The Lancers’ line is tough and experienced and after taking some lumps last year, they’re amped up to block for their dynamic underclassmen teammates.

“We knew (Cheltenham) was going to put up a hard fight so as an o-line, and really as a team, we knew we had to bite down,” lineman Giancarlo Kelly said. “You’re going to get tired playing the game of football, but we knew it was going to come down to the last quarter.”

McDevitt scored on its second drive, a 10-play, 85-yard affair that ended with a two-yard drive by Price for a 7-0 lead. That would be the only score of the game until the first play of the fourth quarter, when Gyabaah pushed in from a yard out to tie the game.

Cheltenham set up the touchdown, and really got itself going, with the final play of the third quarter. Bottled up all night, Gyabaah took out that frustration when he rolled left and found Jordan Green-Hinson for a 62-yard catch-and-run.

The Lancers responded by putting together a 90-yard drive that ate up nearly nine minutes of clock and used 15 plays before Peaker hit paydirt from a yard out. At 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, Peaker isn’t big, but he runs with a purpose.

“Winning this game was very important and I don’t want to play badly because I’m a freshman, I’m out here playing against juniors and seniors and I’m just trying my hardest,” Peaker said. “All the other players are bigger than me, but I just try to keep going.”

Both teams are home next week, with Cheltenham welcoming archrival Abington on Friday and McDevitt hosting Valley Forge the next night.

Nase said the second half gives his team plenty to build on and he was especially happy to see his guys start playing more physical after halftime. His team has already proven it has heart and toughness. He cited Watkins’ “brick by brick” mantra, not wanting to steal it, but noting it has plenty of truth behind it.

Rice, who hails from North Philadelphia, said he’s not worried about the team getting a big head after two wins because the coaches won’t allow it in practice. There’s no time for it because there’s still a lot of bricks to put down.

“It starts with the coaches,” Rice said. “They all tell us ‘brick by brick,’ and bring intensity and energy. This is varsity football, it’s not JV, it’s not freshman ball, you have to play at the level you want to be.”

BISHOP McDEVITT 14, CHELTENHAM 13
BISHOP MCDEVITT 7 0 0 7 – 14
CHELTENHAM 0 0 0 13 – 13

Scoing Plays
1st Quarter
BM – Lonnie Rice 2 run (Dan Fiorello kick) 47.8
4th Quarter
C – Jordan Gyabaah 1 run (Justin Grady kick) 11:56
BM – John Luke PEaker 10 run (Fiorello kick) 3:15
C – Gyabaah 7 run (two-point run fail) 1:20

Team Stats
BM C
First downs 15 6
Rushes-Yards 47-326 21-86
Passing 1-7-0-0 3-8-0-0
Passing Yards 11 101
Total Yards 337 187
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 8-65 2-14

Individual Stats
Rushing: BM – John Luke Peaker 20-176, Lonnie Rice 16-75, Robert Laurie-Clark 3-23, Quamir Reynolds 5-38, Tyseem Caesar 2-9, Amari Jones 1-5; C – Tyler Cain 6-3, Jordan Gyabaah 9-67, Joshua Joachim 3-6, Frank Sullen 3-10
Passing: BM – Rice 1-7-0-0-11; Gyabaah 3-8-0-0-101
Receiving: BM – Jordan Drew 1-11; Jordan Green-Hinson 1-62, Cain 2-23, Joachim 1-16

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