LOWER MORELAND >> Just three seconds remained in the first half, with Jenkintown positioned at Lower Moreland’s 24-yard line.
The call went in for “all verts,” with every Drake receiver running deep vertical routes that not only flooded the end zone but in the process cleared out just about every Lower Moreland defender.
Quarterback Pat Morrin surveyed things, rolled left, then pulled the ball down and took off running.
“I saw an opening,” Morrin said with a smile afterwards. “I went for it.”
Jenkintown’s senior QB sprinted for the left corner, juked one defender and dove past two others, sneaking the ball inside the pylon and over the goal line for the most pivotal score in the Drakes’ 33-32, have-to-catch-your-breath victory over the Lions Saturday afternoon.
“That may have been my favorite play of my high school career, by far,” Morrin said. “I was like ‘wow.’ I didn’t think it was gonna happen.”
— Kev Hunter (@khunter10) September 16, 2017
In a game filled with twists and turns, that may have pushed the game in Jenkintown’s favor for good. The touchdown, followed up by — only fitting — a two-point conversion run by Morrin, tied things up at 20 apiece at the half, and the Drakes (2-1) never trailed again in this Bicentennial Athletic League clash.
“It was huge,” said Morrin, who praised his offensive line for a dominant second-half performance. “That gave us great momentum going into the third quarter.”
From there, Jenkintown began to take over.
An offensive line that includes senior 250-pounder Mahari Berry began to pry open holes and the Jenkintown backs poured through. The Drakes (1-1 BAL) mounted a 14-play drive that ate up yards and consumed the clock.
Chris Solis — with a workmanlike 29 carries on the day for 152 yards — finished things up, weaving his way untouched for an 8-yard score and a 27-20 lead with 2 minutes, 20 seconds left in the third quarter.
“Very effective with the run,” Morrin said of the offense. “We had it in us the whole time. That’s what we practice — grinding, grinding and grinding, day in, day out, Monday through Friday.”
As a result, it was turning out to be a happy Saturday, as Jenkintown’s second possession of the second half ended the same way as the first.
This time, after eight consecutive runs, the Drakes switched things up on 3rd-and-Goal from the nine, with Morrin firing a quick outlet pass to Riley Smith, who worked his way into the end zone for a 33-20 lead with 8:17 left to play.
But Lower Moreland (0-2, 0-1 BAL) still had something left.
“This was a wild game,” Lions quarterback Coleman Peppelman said, echoing the sentiments of everyone in attendance at Mark V. Mayson Stadium. “We still fired back.”
Did they ever.
On the next play from scrimmage following Smith’s score, Peppelman connected with wide receiver Forrest Keys for a 56-yard touchdown, and suddenly Lower Moreland was right back in it, down 33-26 with 7:59 to go.
The Lions scored again on their next series, this time on a six-yard power run by Matthew Stefurak, but the two-point conversion run failed, leaving it 33-32 with 4:09 left.
Lower Moreland recovered the ensuing onside kick but it did not travel the necessary 10 yards. Jenkintown took the ball and powered down the clock, using eight, satisfying runs to lock up the victory.
In a classic shootout, Jenkintown wound up having one more bullet than Lower Moreland.
“Entertaining if nothing else. Not great from my standpoint but definitely entertaining,” said a happy Drakes coach, Tony Owens. “The offensive line played really well, Solis played exceptionally hard and Morrin (95 yds rushing, 43 passing) made some really big plays.”
“We’re definitely improving,” Peppelman said of his squad, which got 109 yards rushing from Stefurak and 143 yards receiving from Keys. “I think we played much better than we have in past years. And they’re a decent team.”
— Kev Hunter (@khunter10) September 16, 2017
It was a back-and-forth first half.
Jenkintown went ahead on a two-yard run by Morrin and — with both teams struggling on the PAT’s — the score was 6-0 Drakes.
Lower Moreland tied it on the first play of the second quarter when Stefurak evaded two tacklers and broke away to a 30-yard touchdown run, making it 6-6.
Just two plays later, fast Albert Koniers skit-skatted for 26 yards, then scored on a five-yard run and a 12-6 Jenkintown advantage.
That lead lasted only 19 seconds.
Lower Moreland knotted things up at 12 when Peppelman fired to a wide-open Keys down the seam, good for 58 yards and a game-tying touchdown.
Lower Moreland — with a six-yard run by Stefurak and a two-point pass to Stefurak — took its only lead, 20-12, with 35 seconds left in the half.
Koniers had a nice kickoff return for Jenkintown, moving the ball to the Lower Moreland 48.
Morrin threw to C.J. Jackmon for nine, then to John Johnson for six and Koniers for nine, setting up Jenkintown for 2nd-and-1 at the Lower Moreland 24 with three seconds to go until halftime.
Morrin did the rest.
“That was so big because you know what? We’re not the winners of this game if we don’t go down the field like that,” said Owens, whose team dominated in plays from scrimmage — 63 to 33. “We really tried to keep the ball on the ground because we thought we were playing well up front.
“And the other thing was the kids being so gassed in the humidity with that amount of running…”
Jenkintown would sweat out a hard-earned victory, with just enough wind left in their pipes to sing “Happy 50th Birthday” to assistant coach Elmo Kelley.