HORSHAM >> Playing in an atmosphere described as “playoff-like” and “electric,” it was Upper Moreland’s Brett Brossman who buzzed into the Hatboro-Horsham backfield and stifled the Hatters’ potential game-winning two-point attempt.
“I was thinking, they kept getting me on the outside rush,” Brossman said after. “Coach (Adam Beach) kept telling me, ‘hang, hang, hang, and set ‘em up.’ This time, we got ‘em, instead of them getting me.”
In a game overflowing with offense, it was that one final defensive play that won it for the Bears. Brossman got a hold of Hatter quarterback Chris Edwards, forcing a hurried, short throw. Adam Suder caught it, was swarmed by Upper Moreland defenders, and the Bears’ 41-40 victory had been preserved in what was a classic Saturday evening on the turf at Hatboro-Horsham.
“What a great high school football game,” Beach said, his team celebrating around him. “Back and forth, both teams moving the ball…We made enough plays to win it there at the end.”
The victory improved the Bears to a perfect 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Suburban One League’s American Conference. Hatboro-Horsham is now 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in the SOL American.
After a third quarter that saw the two teams combine for six touchdowns on six possessions, the Bears pushed in front for good with 2 minutes, 34 seconds to play.
Capping an 11-play drive, quarterback Brendan Olexa executed a terrific fake handoff that fooled just about everybody in attendance, allowing him to roll around the right side untouched and coast into the end zone for a 13-yard score and a 41-34 Bear lead.
“Once we got close (to the goal line), the thinking was we’re gonna run the ball, run the clock out, score, and don’t give (Hatboro) any time left,” Beach said. “The third-down play (for the TD) was something we thought was there. We almost scored too quick.”
The Hatters’ final possession began on their own 44, and they soon came winging downfield. Edwards rushed for two yards to convert a fourth down into a first, and later rolled right and hit Ben Ejimonyuegwo for a gain of 22, down to the Bear 19 with 26 seconds to go.
That is when Calvin Broaddus pulled off his second magic act of the evening. Pressured when he threw, Edwards launched a deep toss that fluttered toward Broaddus and into coverage, and the 5-foot-8, 165-pound wideout came down with the ball after it deflected off not one but two Upper Moreland defenders, the touchdown bringing the Hatters within 41-40 with 15 seconds to go.
The Hatters then called timeout, and decided to go for the win.
“I felt like we had momentum and had a good play in mind to call. I thought we had a guy open but we couldn’t quite get it to him,” said Hatters coach Michael Kapusta. “That last play just didn’t quite go our way. Hats off to Upper Moreland for a great game and a great effort.
“I think this was a high-caliber high school football game and I think Upper Moreland’s a very good team.”
The two teams battling back and forth all night, the biggest lead was seven points. They were tied on three separate occasions.
“The big thing with those guys is their speed and they’re extremely dangerous — they showed that again,” Kapusta said. “You wanna get one stop, respond, and get one up on the see saw.”
The prolific third quarter began with Olexa throwing a 40-yard touchdown pass to Brossman, on 4th-and-5. Olexa hit Brossman in stride, putting the Bears ahead at 19-14 (the two-point pass would fail).
“Coach Beach set me up well and I have a great quarterback,” said Brossman, who caught three balls for 71 yards and two scores. “Olexa’s a good football player and he gave it to me, gave me a chance to make a play.”
Hatboro came right back, taking the lead on a one-yard burst by Ismael Colazo. The kick after was blocked, leaving it 20-19.
Back came Upper Moreland.
The Bears scored on a three-yard run by Caleb Mead, along with a two-point run by Sterlen Barr Jr. (121 yds), to go up 27-20, but back came Hatboro, tying it up with a 37-yard strike from Edwards (10-16, 209 yds, 4 TD’s, Int) to Broaddus Jr.
Mead (93 yds, 2 TD’s) broke free for a 58-yard score for Upper Moreland before the quarter came to a close with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Edwards to Ben Ejimonyuegwo, tying things up 34-34. It was merely a warm up for the fourth quarter.
“Hatboro’s a good team so we knew this was gonna be a good barometer for where we are,” Beach said. “I thought we played them tough, we got the win, so we’re pretty happy where we are right now, but we have to have a short memory because we have a short week coming up.”
Things got started in the first quarter when Olexa hit Barr Jr. in stride for a 46-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Upper Moreland lead. Hatboro tied it up with a two-yard rush by Josh Smith.
The Bears went up 13-7 in the second quarter but the Hatters went into the break up by one, courtesy of the first of three touchdown grabs by Broaddus, this one from 37 yards out, coming off a deflection.
The two teams combined for 832 yards — nearly half a mile — of offense. Decided by the slimmest of margins, it all came down to the defense.
“We tipped the ball and (Broaddus) makes a play. And (Edwards) is a heck of an athlete,” Beach said. “He rolled around, kept his eyes downfield. When they called timeout (before going for two), it was sort of like basketball — I let them set up and then we called timeout so I could adjust the defense.
“(Brossman) got on (Edwards), and he still got the ball away but we made the stop.”
“We knew coming in that this game would have a big affect on us down the road,” Brossman said. “We knew we had to prep ourselves for this one more than we had before, because Hatboro-Horsham is a good team. I think we had the most heart tonight and I’m really proud of my team. I’m really proud of them.”