Radnor – Radnor junior running back Matt Cohen, who rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ 12-6 win against Conestoga Saturday evening at Prevost Field, briefly reflected on the meaning of beating the Pioneer gridders for the second year in a row.
“It was really important for us to win tonight,” said Cohen. “Conestoga is our unwritten rival. They’re bigger than we are [in enrollment] but we can compete with them.”
The Pioneers (1-4, 1-3) made it tough for Radnor in the first half. Junior running back Milton Robinson, who scored on a 14 yard run late in the first quarter, and junior halfback Amani Christopher teamed up in the first half for 120 rushing yards on 17 carries, and Conestoga took a 6-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
But Radnor (3-2, 1-2) tied the score late in the third quarter on Cohen’s 8 yard TD run, then went ahead for good with 5:40 left on Cohen’s 38-yard scoring run down the left sideline.
“We made some offensive and defensive adjustments at halftime,” said Radnor head coach Tom Ryan. “Our assistant coaches did a good job with the adjustments, and we’ve got a great group of kids to work with.
“Both Matt and [sophomore] Taylor Margolis did a good job at running back, and I thought our whole offensive line played awesome tonight, especially in the second half.
“On defense, Kyle Addis did a great job for us at linebacker, and I thought our entire defensive line really picked up its play in the second half.”
In the first quarter, Conestoga scored on its second possession, following a Radnor fumble which Robinson recovered at the Red Raider 43 yard line. The Pioneers called five straight running plays, alternating Robinson and Christopher, and on the fifth run Robinson burst into the end zone for a 6-0 Conestoga lead with 5:53 to play in the first stanza.
Radnor then went on a long drive of its own, moving 56 yards in 12 plays (nine of them runs) to the Conestoga 17 yard line, but there the drive stalled.
Midway through the second quarter, Conestoga senior Nick Braendel intercepted a Radnor pass and returned it to the Red Raider 20 yard line, but the hosts’ defense stiffened and the Pioneers failed to score.
While Conestoga was gaining yardage in the first half, they were also incurring penalties. By halftime, Conestoga picked up 63 yards in penalties, while Radnor had none.
Conestoga got a break 47 seconds into the third quarter when Pioneer senior linebacker Jackson Niness recovered a Radnor fumble at the Red Raider 43 yard line
But four plays later, Conestoga loss the ball on a high snap and Radnor senior defensive lineman Joaquin Hollero recovered for the hosts.
“We were moving the ball, but shooting ourselves in the foot with holding penalties and fumbled snaps,” said Conestoga head coach Marquis Weeks. “It’s like we were taking 10 steps forward and nine steps back. We need better resolve after [a bad play]. We can’t let things snowball.”
Radnor then took charge, going on a 59 yard touchdown drive composed of 11 consecutive running plays. On the last four plays of the drive, Radnor gave the ball to Cohen, and he gained 28 yards all the way to the end zone, scoring from the 8 yard line to tie the score at 6-6 with 3:58 to play in the third quarter.
“Our offensive line did a great job [on the TD run],” said Cohen. “I wasn’t even touched on the way to the end zone – there was one guy standing on the goal line, and I got past him.”
Cohen carried the majority of the offensive load for Radnor Saturday, as the Red Raiders’ regular starting quarterback, junior Sean Mullarkey, was sidelined with an injury. Saturday evening, sophomore Sam DiLella and junior Teddy Girton alternated at the signal-calling spot for the Red Raiders, and both made contributions to the victory. On Radnor’s first touchdown drive, Girton ran three consecutive times for solid gains. A few minutes later, DeLella hit junior running back Jahmair Rider for a 36-yard completion.
“Sam and Teddy both practiced at quarterback all week, and they did the job for us tonight,” said Ryan. “Sean will be back for us in our next game Thursday against Harriton.”
Following Radnor’s first touchdown, the Red Raider defense held Conestoga to a three-and-out, then began another long offensive drive that fizzled out at the Conestoga 5 yard line. The Pioneers had another three-and-out, punted to the Conestoga 35 yard line, and three plays later, Cohen broke free for a 38-yard touchdown run down the left sideline to put the Red Raiders ahead for good 12-6 with 5:40 left.
Cohen said, “Our offensive line was blocking well on every play, we were getting 5, 6 yards a carry to that point. On that play, when I cut back [to the left], the hole was there, and I was able to break out.”
Conestoga made one last scoring push when junior quarterback Cameron Marcus entered the game. On his first play from scrimmage, Marcus hit senior wide receiver James Reilly for a 37-yard gain, then two plays later completed an 18-yard pass to Robinson to put the Pioneers at the Radnor 33 yard line. But Conestoga went no further.
Radnor 12, Conestoga 6
Conestoga 6 0 0 0 — 6
Radnor 0 0 6 6 — 12
CON: Robinson 14 run (kick blocked)
RAD: Cohen 8 run (kick failed)
RAD: Cohen 38 run (kick blocked)
First downs 8 10
Rushes-Yards 32-155 45-213
Passing yards 55 47
Total yards 210 260
Passing 2-9-1 3-10-1
Punts-Average 4-35.5 1-22
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-1
Penalties-Yards 7-85 2-21
Rushing: Conestoga — Christopher 7-62, Robinson 19-71, 1 TD, Duffy 1-4, Brandel 5-18. Radnor — Cohen 28-158, 2 TDs; Margolis 7-21; Girton 7-22; DeLella 3-12.
Passing: Conestoga — Marcus 2-5-1, 55 yards; Braendel 0-3-0, 0 yards; Robinson 0-1-0, 0 yards. Radnor — DeLella 3-10-1, 47 yards.
Receiving: Conestoga — Reilly 1-37, Robinson 1-18 Radnor — Rider 2-37, Treangen 1-10.
Interceptions: Conestoga — Braendel. Radnor — Sheridan.