UPPER DUBLIN >> Malik Bootman kept finding the end zone. Lansdale Catholic, meanwhile, is still looking for its offense.
The Upper Dublin senior running back finished with four touchdowns on the ground — two in each half — aa the host Cardinals claimed their first win of the season, pulling away in the third quarter of their nonleague contest with the Crusaders for a 28-3 victory Friday night.
“Anytime I get the ball, I try to think this is my time to make the play,” Bootman said. “My line, as long as my line does their job I do my job and get it done.”
Bootman completed the task of crossing the goal line on a pair of short-yardage situations in the second quarter then scored from farther out in the third — capping consecutive Upper Dublin (1-1) drives with touchdowns runs of 25 and 18 yards.
“Still not totally clean, but the second week for us — everybody’s on their third — so we’ll certainly take it,” Cardinals coach Bret Stover said. “But we still got to get a lot better know we’re getting into our league. We got to be much better consistency-wise offensively moving the ball. Our defense has been playing great. I thought they played great last week, I thought, too.”
Lansdale Catholic had chance to build some momentum late in the first half when Mike Dutkiewicz’s 54-yard completion to Alex Arnow set up a 1st and goal from the UD 6. But the Crusaders had to settle from a 22-yard Brendan Menges field goals as the clock expired to make it 14-3 at the break. LC would not get into Upper Dublin territory again until the fourth quarter when it was trailing by 25.
“They’re better than us but offensively we’re struggling so much to move the ball,” Lansdale Catholic coach Tom Kirk said. “We’re moving guys around because of injuries — but everybody has injuries. I’m not going to make excuses, we just have to figure out a way. Got to figure out a way to get first downs and control the ball and keep our defense off the field. It’s very frustrating but got to figure out a way.”
Dutkiewicz threw for 104 yards on 6-of-14 passing while LC struggled moving the ball on the ground as it was held to single digits for the second straight contest. With injuries keeping Jason Doheny on the sideline and limiting Matt Casee to only three carries, the Crusaders could only post 57 yards on 36 rushes.
“We’ve always been is a team that gets off the ball, that gets into you, gets three, four, five yards.” Kirk said. “We got to find that and that’s me. I got to find a way for us to just become a so much of a better offensive team.”
Upper Dublin quarterback Julian Gimbel came up with big third-down plays on two touchdown drives and was 6-of-13 passing for 133 yards and also collected 49 yards on four carries, helping the Cardinals bounce back for a season-opening 31-9 loss to Perkiomen Valley.
“It wasn’t like a total ‘Oh my gosh, we got to start over,’ it was just polish and practice,” Stover said. “And what we asked them to do across the board is get better this week and we did that. All right, we got to get better. Our best years is when we’ve gotten better every week and peaked at the end of the season. That’s what the goal is. We want to start grinding and be more consistent on offense.”
Both teams start league play next week on the road. Upper Dublin begins its Suburban One League American Conference schedule by visiting Cheltenham while Lansdale Catholic’s Philadelphia Catholic League Blue Division opener is at Bonner & Prendergast.
“I’m frustrated. I’m disappointed. We have to get some kids healthy but that doesn’t happen quickly,” Kirk said. “You just got to play with how you have and just figure out a way to coach them better. Kids maybe step up a little bit and again just look at it a say OK that was a tough preseason and let’s have Monsignor Bonner on our minds starting right now.”
Bootman gave Upper Dublin the lead for good on the first play on the second quarter, plowing into the end zone from a yard out at 11:55 to end a 12-play, 78-yard drive.
“I had great blocking and my coaches made great play calls tonight,” Bootman said.
Gimbel’s passing helped Bootman get touchdown No. 2. On a 2nd and 20 from the UD 39, Gimbel connected with Selvin Haynes for 15 yards then the next play hit Haynes again — this time for a 49 yard gain down to the Lansdale Catholic 2. Bootman proceeded to plunge over the goal line for a 14-0 Cards advantage with 2:14 left in the half.
Arnow got behind the Upper Dublin defense and Dutkiewicz found him for 54 yards to put LC six yards from the end zone. The Crusaders pushed to the UD 1 but were called for a false start on 3rd and goal, moving them back to the six. Lansdale Catholic only moved a yard closer and Menges’ 22-yard field goal cut the margin to 14-3 at halftime.
Bootman gave Upper Dublin a 21-3 lead at 5:57 in the third as he burst up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown.
“They overloaded that one side and I just saw the opening. I took it,” Bootman said.
After forcing and LC three-and-out, the Cardinals went up 28-3 on their next series. Gimbel converted a 3rd-and-8 from the Crusader 38 with an 18-yard run and two plays later Bootman dashed 18 yards to the end zone at 2:23 in the third.