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Upper Darby’s comeback on Garnet Valley falls short despite two last chances

CONCORD >> Garnet Valley and Upper Darby had just spent 47 minutes and 59.9 seconds battering each other in what would eventually be a 22-14 victory for the Jaguars.

The circuitous route that Garnet Valley needed to take to finally nail down the win kept the crowd on its feet for the final tenth of a second that played out after everyone assumed the game was already over.

As the Royals made a last ditch effort to tie the game with the final seconds ticking away, Upper Darby attempted to spike the ball and was whistled for a penalty. Most of both sidelines and the crowd thought the game was over and the teams lined up for post-game handshakes.

That was until Upper Darby coach Rich Gentile had an opportunity to plead his case, that the Royals should have one more play due to 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock when his team spiked the ball, regardless of the penalty that was called.

“(The officials) argument was that, by rule, you can’t put (time back) on the clock,” Gentile said. “I said, ‘I understand that, but you don’t have to put any time on the clock because when we spiked it, there was 0.1 seconds left on the clock.’ The clock starts on the snap, so there was no need to put any time on the clock because of what we had left.

“The crew got it right and they did a great job of giving us the opportunity to have that last play.”

After a conference, the officials determined the penalty would be walked off, but Upper Darby would also have one-tenth of a second to get a play off. Both sidelines rallied as the ball was spotted at the Jaguars’ 25-yard line.

“It was a crazy ending, but I’m happy that the officials took the time to get it right,” Garnet Valley coach Mike Ricci said. “It was too good of a football game to end on a technicality like that. Upper Darby got that extra play, but it was the right thing. The officials did the right thing.”

Ultimately, the Jaguars would win anyway, as Upper Darby quarterback Josh Gouch’s pass fell incomplete.

“I love the way our guys responded when they had to go out for the last play,” Ricci said. “Our guys were excited and that shows a lot of leadership from our seniors and the great heart our team.”

Garnet Valley quarterback Ryan Hamby had gotten the scoring started with a one-yard sneak for a touchdown that was set up by an excellent 35-yard punt return by Kevin Doherty. It was the Jaguars core of running backs, however, that would batter the Royals defense to build a substantial lead.

Danny Guy (117 yards) and Matthew Lassik (101 yards) kept the Jaguars rolling with their respective bruising styles and each tallied touchdown runs for a 19-0 Garnet Valley lead.

Garnet Valley kicker/safety Justin Rose made his presence felt with a 37-yard field goal with 17 seconds left in the first half for a 22-6 lead.

With the Jaguars’ offense doing its normal damage, the defense was able to stifle the Royals early. Griffin Salus continued his excellent start to the season and was supported by several other Jaguars including Zachary Shankle (sack) and Cole Palis (interception).

“It was a lot of fun to come back out and get in another play,” said Salus, who had two sacks to raise his season total to five. “We just want to be explosive and get off the ball. The whole team prepared for this season to come out and win.”

Upper Darby linebacker turned defensive tackle Justin O’Donnell had a monster game for the Royals. Not only did rack up three sacks, but he recovered a fumble and set up a touchdown with an interception.

O’Donnell rambled 19 yards with his interception before stumbling down at the one-yard line. Gouch punched the ball in on the next play for touchdown, which was one of two scoring runs the quarterback had on the night.

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