PHILADELPHIA >> Players on the Archbishop Carroll sideline kept reminiscing about last week’s loss to St. Joseph’s Prep.
The Patriots only trailed by 10 points at halftime against the defending PIAA Class 6A champions but they were unable to sustain momentum over the final 24 minutes, giving up four touchdowns in the process.
Nevertheless, they felt having a team like St. Joe’s Prep on the ropes could propel them to a few wins down the stretch. Unfortunately for the Patriots, their confidence took another hit on Saturday.
Archbishop Carroll turned the ball over six times on downs on its way to a 6-0 loss at the hands of Roman Catholic at the Germantown Supersite. From the start, the Patriots had the Cahillites right where they wanted them as safety Robert Ferry intercepted Roman quarterback Jeff Grosso’s pass and returned it to the 48-yard line.
Behind the running of Russell Minor-Shaw (116 yards on 15 carries), who racked up 33 yards on the ground on that first drive, Archbishop Carroll (2-4, 0-3 Philadelphia Catholic League Red Division) drove to Roman’s 16, but that’s where a theme of the game would begin as the Cahillites turned it over on downs for the first time. For head coach Dan Connor, while the offense was moving the football for much of the day, the team as a whole is not progressing the way he expected.
“We were building in the right direction but I think we took a little bit of a step back today,” Connor said. “We have to learn from it. It was a step back offensively and we have to find some answers to get our guys out in space.”
Early on, Roman Catholic (1-5, 1-1) was not taking advantage of the Patriots’ miscues and on Archbishop Carroll’s third drive, it looked as if the Cahillites had done the opposition a favor by allowing them to hang around.
With the ball at their 14-yard yard line, the Patriots went to running back Josh Bowman who broke out a 64-yard scamper on his first carry of the game, which set his team up at the Roman 22. Four plays later, Connor’s team failed to finish off another drive as quarterback Kamal Gray was sacked on fourth down.
Bowman, who finished with 74 rushing yards, knows the Patriots have to be more consistent in finishing off drives with touchdowns.
“The blocking was there on some plays but just wasn’t on others,” Bowman said. “We weren’t able to capitalize. We were able to put together a couple of nice drives at the end but couldn’t score.”
While the Cahillites were not making Archbishop Carroll pay for the amount of times they gave them the ball back, running back Marquise Cooper was providing them with a spark. Cooper amassed 87 yards on the ground, including the only score of the game on 12-yard run with 5:41 left to play. Aside from the running back’s strong day, it was the defense for Roman Catholic that rose to the occasion.
Not only did the Cahillites force the Patriots to turn the ball over on downs six times but they limited them to 212 total yards and kept them out of the end zone to claim the team’s first victory of the season.
Cahillites head coach Jim Murphy stressed how Archbishop Carroll was going to be different than any opponent his team had faced all year. but saw his kids step up in a big way.
“We’re ecstatic and we knew we were going to have to play good defense today,” Murphy said. “This is the only team that runs the Wing-T that we’re going to face. That presented a challenge because it’s something brand new to these guys.”
Connor and his team now turn their direction to next week’s matchup against Archbishop Ryan. While this loss may have stymied his team’s progression, the second-year head coach still feels they’re further along than they were a year ago.
“We’re way ahead of where we were last year but we’re not there yet,” Connor said. “The way I see it is we have to continue to work on the culture of working hard, fighting and competing for everything we do.”