WARRINGTON – Trailing Central Bucks South, 14-7, in the third quarter, visiting Council Rock South had just come up with its second turnover in the game, this one a fumble recovery by senior linebacker Tyler Berghaier at the Titans’ 38 yard line.
The Golden Hawks had taken the previous turnover, an interception by senior defensive back Ryan Kilgariff, and converted it into points in the form of a 2-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Christian Jabbar.
This time, the CB South defense closed however, as Rock South went three-and-out on its ensuing possession. From there, the Titans pitched a shutout and came away with their third win of the season, this one a 21-7 triumph over the Golden Hawks, who are now 1-2.
“When we turned that ball over, our defense came out possessed and said, ‘that can’t happen,’” said CB South head coach Tom Hetrick. “They went three and out; all of a sudden, we just came to life.”
After that, the Titan offense – which hadn’t scored since the first play of the second quarter – was also suddenly resuscitated. Capping a six-play, 62-yard touchdown drive was CB South’s 5-7, 150-pound senior running back Ryan Watson, who took the ball on the second play of the fourth quarter and scampered 32 yards to paydirt, giving his team the 14-point cushion it possessed at the half.
“Ryan is always one step away from breaking off a big run,” said Hetrick. “He’s unbelievably conditioned and he is so low profile to the ground. You put the ball in his hands, you can be sure that he’s going to make some kind of play; he’s a special player.”
Watson’s 123 rushing yards and two TDs on 19 carries helped the Titans play ball control throughout the final frame. Rock South got the ball only one time in the fourth quarter and once again, went three-and-out.
“We just didn’t execute offensively,” said Jabbar. “The defense did their job and got us the ball late in the game. And we didn’t come through in the stretch.
“We just have to get back to work and start executing this offense.”
In their last two losses, Rock South has failed to eclipse 200 yards in total offense. The rushing game, which produced just 56 yards in the previous week’s loss to CB West, amassed just 42 yards in this one.
Compare that to week one, a 28-0 win over Cheltenham in which the Hawks netted over 300 yards of offense including 142 rushing yards. The Panthers have yet to win a game however and both the Bucks – who pitched a 20-0 shutout Friday night against Quakertown – and the Titans are unbeaten.
In this game, CB South marched right down the field on its opening possession, scoring on a two-yard pass from senior quarterback Jack Johns to junior Matt Norris. The point-after put the Titans on top, 7-0, less than four minutes into the contest.
The Hawks got an initial first down on runs by Jabbar and classmate Jake Diaz. But the drive sputtered, forcing the visitors to punt. A highlight of CR South’s first possession was a pass from Jabbar to Division 1 prospect Nick Gallo that went in and out of the junior tight end’s hands at the 20. A quick response right there to the Titans’ initial score would have done wonders for the Hawks’ cause.
Taking control of the ball at its own 34 yard line with 5:30 remaining in the first quarter, CB South assembled a 12-play, 66-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 5-yard TD scamper by Watson. Johns hit four different receivers on the drive including a pair to sophomore Sean Smith, who kept the drive alive with a nice run and dive after the catch on fourth and a long two at the 14 yard line.
Johns completed 14 of 20 passes in the first half, good for 147 yards passing. He hit eight different receivers before the intermission and his first pass in the game to junior Brady Prezelski was good for over 20 yards.
“We have six, seven or eight guys that we trust,” said Hetrick. “We put them in a position to make a play, they’re going to secure the ball and make that play.”
Two passes by Johns in the second half resulted in two turnovers however, so CB South relied on its running game the rest of the way. After the fumble by senior Collin Dompert in the third quarter, the Titans went to the air just three more times.
“They have big-play potential – 15 (Gallo) is a player, 12 (Andrew Vera) is a football player and they have big-play potential,” explained Hetrick. “So we said we need to protect this lead and we have to buckle down and be able to pin our ears back and run the ball and we were certainly able to do that.”
After surrendering a pair of TDs on CB South’s first two possessions, the Hawks’ defense put the clamps down in the second quarter, forcing the home team to go 3-and-out after a fumble by Jabbar gave the Titans the ball at midfield.
On CR South’s next possession, a dazzling one-handed catch by Gallo resulted in a 35-yard pass from Jabbar that put the Rock on CB South’s 25 yard line. The drive sputtered however when Jabbar’s fourth-down pass to Vera – who caught a 33-yard pass in the third quarter, highlighting the Hawks’ only scoring drive – in the corner of the end zone was broken up by Titans senior DB Jason Horvath.
On its next possession, CB South pushed the ball all the way down to the Hawks’ 15 yard line after Johns connected with Horvath on a 46-yard passing strike. While a 10-yard penalty, a nice tackle by linebacker T.J. Pritz and a pair of incompletions by Johns gave the Rock one last chance to score in the first half, the Hawks could not convert and went into the locker room trailing, 14-0.
Next up for Rock South is Truman next Friday, Sept. 15 at Henry Morgan Stadium. The last time the teams squared off in 2016, the Hawks came away with a 12-6 triumph, one of only two wins for Rock South last season.
At 3-0 with win over Abington, CR North and now CR South, CB South opens its league schedule Saturday, Sept. 16 at CB East.
TOP PHOTO: Council Rock South quarterback Christian Jabbar is wrapped up by CB South senior defensive end Tristan Roman is 21-7 loss to the Titans Friday, Sept. 8 at CB South’s stadium in Warrington. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
Central Bucks South 21, Council Rock South 7
(Sept. 8 at CB South)
CR SOUTH (3-0) 0 0 7 0 – 7
CB SOUTH (1-2) 7 7 0 7 – 21
CBS — Matt Norris 2 pass from Jack Johns (Brian Madden kick)
CBS — Ryan Watson 5 run (Madden kick)
CRS — Christian Jabbar 2 run (Andrew Witten kick)
CBS — Watson 32 run (Madden kick)