FRANCONIA >> Cheesesteaks all around for a Hatboro-Horsham offensive line that blew open holes and the game, as the Hatters ran away to a 28-3 victory over Souderton Friday night.
“The offensive line was superb,” Hatters coach Michael Kapusta said of a unit that includes 6-foot, 255-pound Mark Custer. “The receivers on the perimeter were blocking and the few times we did put the ball in the air, the receivers were there to make the plays as well. So it was a really great, all-around team effort.
“We’re starting to develop our identity,” Kapusta said of his 2-1 squad. “This is the type of football we’ve been wanting to play for a long time. And our kids bought into it.”
Quarterback Chris Edwards threw for a score and also ran one for one, Josh Smith slashed and dashed his way downfield with regularity, and the offensive line — promised cheesesteaks for clearing the way for over 300 yards rushing — will be eating good this weekend.
“We had a great week of practice. Everyone was just flying around,” said Smith, who needed just 14 carries for 115 yards and a score. “The offensive line won us this game. They played phenomenal tonight. The holes were wide open.”
Smith burst through one of those holes just three minutes into the contest and Hatboro was in front for good.
After a 39-yard gain by Adam Suder on the Hatters’ first offensive play, Smith followed up with a 47-yard score, making it 7-0 Hatboro.
After Souderton (1-2) fumbled the ensuing kickoff, the Hatters doubled their lead. Six plays moved the ball to the Souderton 17, where Edwards fired to Ben Ejimonyeugwo on a slant for a 14-0 advantage.
“We knew what happened last year,” Edwards said of the 42-27 setback to Souderton in 2016. “We clashed heads and we took the loss last year. But this year, we had a goal. And our goal was to work extremely hard and prepare for this game.
“Because we know Souderton is a really good team. Everybody did their job and good things happened tonight.”
Hatboro-Horsham quarterback Chris Edwards scores on a keeper against Souderton during their game on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)
Down by two scores, Big Red needed to get something going.
Enter Trevor Watts.
The 265-pound tackle dusted off his throwing arm — he played some QB in his middle-school days — and hit a streaking Ethan Smerecki down the right sideline, in stride, for a 31-yard gain on a fake punt.
Souderton drove to the Hatter 10, but Hatboro’s defense stiffened, limiting Big Red to a 27-yard field goal off the foot of William Leyland, making it 14-3 early in the second quarter.
“That was nice,” Indians coach Ed Gallagher said. “We saw something on film that I thought we could exploit and we weren’t stopping them (on defense), so I figured let’s take a chance here at extending a drive, and it worked out well.
“We gotta find a way to punch that (drive) in (for seven).”
Souderton’s defense then stopped Hatboro on the other end of the field, leading to a 27-yard field goal attempt by the Hatters that sailed wide.
But then Hatboro forced a Souderton fumble, and six plays later, Edwards sprinted away into the night, the quarterback’s 26-yard TD run boosting the margin to 21-3 at the half.
Souderton punter Trevor Watts passes on a fourth down play against Hatboro-Horsham during their game on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)
“They’re good. They’re not real deep, so our hope was that we were gonna be able to roll some bodies in and wear them down,” Gallagher said. “They have a bunch of two-way starters that are really good football players.
“They came out and punched us in the mouth and they deserved to beat us.”
Big Red drove to the Hatter 38 midway through the third, but on 4th-and-18, a desperation pass by quarterback Dean Dipisa was tipped by Ejimonyeugwo then intercepted by linebacker Nick Chapman, the pounding pulse of Hatboro’s defense all throughout the evening.
Hatboro took over at its own three and began its longest and most rewarding drive of the evening.
“We’re backed up, and the kids dug deep,” Kapusta said. “It was a gutsy effort.”
The Hatters marched nearly the length of the field in 16 plays, chewing up the rest of the third quarter clock and much of the fourth. Ismael Collazo went airborne for the final yard, leaping over the pile for the last score of the night and a 28-3 lead. Hatboro finished the game the same way it began it.
Said Kapusta: “Coming out of the locker room, I thought the guys were fired up. They wanted to make a statement. The guys felt we were a better football team than people in the area thought, and they wanted to earn that respect.”