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Two passes spell the difference for run-oriented Delco Christian football squad

Upper Merion >> Delco Christian ran the ball 62 times against host Valley Forge Military Academy Friday. It threw only four passes.

But the final two tosses made all the difference.

Knights’ quarterback Luke Gutowski connected on a pair of fourth-down throws in the final three minutes to fuel a 21-17 victory for the visitors.
Delco Christian (4-2, 3-1) trailed 17-14 in the fourth quarter when it engineered an 88-yard touchdown drive on 18 plays – only two of them passes, and both on fourth down.
The first of the two throws came with the Knights facing a 4th-and-10 at the VFMA 49 yard line. Gutowski hit senior back Jalen Mitchell for a 29 yard gain on a post pattern that kept Delco Christian’s hopes alive.
“Luke Gutkowski believes in himself and his teammates,” said Delco Christian head coach Drew Pearson. “And Jalen Mitchell made a great catch, under the greatest pressure you can be under. Jalen’s a tough kid – he doesn’t come off the field at any time.”
The second – and winning – throw came on 4th and goal at the VFMA 4 with 1:23 remaining, when Gutowski (who ran 22 times for 110 yards and two TDs) rolled to the right, then hit junior running back Jason Motley for the winning 4-yard TD pass against the host Trojans (0-6, 0-4).
Pearson said, “I thought our whole squad showed resilience today – we fell behind a couple of times, but we kept coming back.”
Delco Christian controlled the first 8 1/2 minutes of the game on a 15-play, 60-yard touchdown drive, consisting mostly of short gains by the Knights’ three-pronged running attack of Gutowski, Mitchell and Jared Nesbit. The trio eventually combined for 256 rushing yards on 57 carries Friday.
VFMA came right back with a 58-yard touchdown drive of its own, the big play a 23-yard TD run by junior running back Elliott Calloway on 4th-and-3. On the scoring play, Calloway originally headed up the middle, found no running room there, then broke to the left for daylight.
Early in the second quarter, Delco Christian attempted a punt from their own 45 yard line, but the snap was high and although the Knights recovered, VFMA had good field position on the DC 30 yard line. A couple of minutes later, VFMA senior kicker Anthony Littlewood booted a 40-yard field goal to give the hosts a 10-7 lead with 5:53 to go before halftime.
Delco Christian then ran the ball 13 consecutive times for a 70-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 4-yard plunge into the end zone by Gutowksi on a keeper, to give the Knights a 14-10 lead at halftime.
Pearson particularly credited senior tackle Tyler Smith and versatile senior offensive lineman Tyler VanEerden for the success of the Knights’ runners.
Gutowski added, “Tyler [VanEerden] and Tyler {Smith] lead the line, and open up the holes for the running backs and me.”
On the opening play from scrimmage in the second half, VFMA got back the momentum as Calloway burst down the left sideline for a 40-yard run that took the ball to the Delco Christian 25 yard line. Calloway finished the game with 95 yards on nine carries.
Four plays later, junior running back Naseer Gilbert plunged over from the 2 yard line to give the hosts a 17-14 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, VFMA drove deep into Delco Christian territory, but the Knights’ defense stiffened and the Trojans relinquished the ball on downs at the DC 12 yard line.
“I thought our linebackers, particularly Luke Gutowski and Jason Motley, played well today,” said Pearson.
Delco Christian took over at its own 12 yard line, and spent the next nine minutes on its 88-yard touchdown drive. Three times during the final drive, the Knights converted on fourth down. The first time was when Gutowski took the snap on a 4th-and-3 from the DC 47 yard line and ran the ball inside for a 4-yard keeper and a first down to keep the drive alive.
VanEerden said, “We work as a team, but Luke carried carried us today.”
After Gutowski’s 29-yard pass to Mitchell carried the Knights to the Trojans’ 20 yard line, Mitchell ran inside for five yards, then Gutowksi carried for five more. Nesbit ran for five yards, then Mitchell took it down to the Trojans’ 2.

A holding call brought Delco Christian back to the Trojans’ 12 yard line on third down, then Gutowski ran the ball inside on a keeper for eight tough yards. On 4th-and-4, Gutowski hit Motley for the winning touchdown pass.

VFMA had 1:23 to play and 65 yards to go for a touchdown. The Trojans tried two passes – the first was incomplete, and the second was intercepted by Delco Christian’s Noah Warren, and the Knights ran out the clock for victory.
The victory improved Delco Christian’s record to 4-2. Both of the Kinghts’ losses were by seven points or less.
“We learned from our adversities last year [a 3-7 record], and we’ve got more experience now,” said Gutowski. “We’ve had several injuries this season, three or four guys going down, but it’s great to see their replacements, our younger players, coming up with big plays.”
VFMA head coach Mike Korom said, “Gutowski did a great job for them today. I thought defensively we played our best game of the season so far, and offensively, we moved the ball. Our kids played hard, read their keys, they never quit.
“We lost a lot of players to graduation last spring after winning the district title [the first District 1 AA title in school history], and we have a lot of underclassmen this year. It’s a rebuilding year.
“I thought Calloway did a nice job of running the ball today, and our sophomore quarterback, Dave Wilson, did a nice job for us. Our offensive line gave [Wilson] time to throw the ball, and Naseer Gilbert did a good job at inside linebacker. [Sophomore] Tyron Rice and [junior] Eddie Davila also have played well for us. We’ll be back. It’s just so frustrating – I wanted to win today for these kids.”

 

Delco Christian 21, Valley Forge Military Academy 17

Delco Christian                   7 7 0 7 — 21

VFMA                                   7 3 7 0 — 17

First Quarter

DC: Gutowski 1 run (Bronkema kick)

VF: Calloway 23 run (Littlewood kick)

Second Quarter

VF: Littlewood 40 FG

DC: Gutowski 4 run (Bronkema kick)

Third Quarter

VF: Gilbert 2 run (Littlewood kick)

Fourth Quarter

DC: Motley 4 pass from Gutowski (Bronkema kick)
TEAM STATISTICS

DC     VF

First downs          17       6

Rushes-Yards 62-269 16-118

Passing yards       33        36

Total yards              302  154

Passing                    2-4-0 6-10-1

Punts-Average        1-29.0 1-26.0

Fumbles-Lost               0-0   1-1

Penalties-Yards            6-35 1-7

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing: Delco Christian — Mitchell 19-78; Gutowski 22-110, 2 TDs; Nesbit 16-68; Motley 3-6; Grieb 2-7. VFMA — Gilbert 6-15, TD, Calloway 9-95, TD, Wilson 1-8.

Passing: Delco Christian — Gutowski 2-4-0, 33 yards, 1 TD. VFMA — Wilson 6-10-1, 36 yards.

Receiving: Delco Christian — Mitchell 1-29, Motley 1-4, TD. VFMA — Kauffman 1-15, Davila 1-3, Calloway 1-7, Gilbert 2-8, Ramsey 1-3.

Interceptions: Delco Christian – Warren.

 

 

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