POTTSTOWN >> Jeff Hollway and the Hill School Rams are looking to build something special. That was evident as the second-year head coach patrolled the sidelines during the Rams’ Friday afternoon showdown with Mid-Atlantic Prep League foe Peddie School, encouraging his players to compete no matter what the score was.
Unfortunately for The Hill, that score was in the Falcons’ favor throughout as Peddie came way with a 51-12 victory in both teams’ MAPL opener.
Despite the setback, Hollway liked the fight his team showed even while enduring a winless season (0-5).
“I told the kids, the team that’s down 51-6 that scores on the last play of the game is the team I want to coach,” said Hollway.
The Rams’ defense was able to keep them in the game in the first half, but after exploding for 21 third-quarter points, Peddie was able to put the game away.
After taking the ball to start the game the Rams’ offense was able to manufacture a few first downs before being stalled in Peddie territory.
The Falcons (4-1) wasted no time driving the ball deep into Ram territory before an Allan Walter’s pass was tipped up into the air and intercepted by Hill junior Justin Adedinsewo.
The Rams would stall once again, giving the ball back to the Falcons who wasted no time as Walters would find a streaking Maurice Bellan down the right side of the field for a 63-yard touchdown.
The Rams would force another turnover when a Ryan Maloney punt was muffed by the Falcons and recovered by Hill senior Eric Jacobs.
Hill was unable to convert it into points and later committed their first major mistake of the game, a botched snap that sailed over the punter’s head for a safety and 9-0 Falcons’ lead.
Peddie capped a long scoring drive with 17-yard TD strike from Walters to Marlyn Johnson for a 16-0 lead.
Hill scored its first points after trading possessions when quarterback Syre Gruber was able to find Darnell Fleury (3 reception for 72 yards) for a 36-yard TD reception.
Any momentum was dashed on the ensuing kickoff when Peddie kick returner Chris Chukwneke would make his first of many big plays, returning the ball to the Rams’ 26-yard line.
Walters’ would find Bellan once again for an 8-yard TD giving the Falcons a 23-6 lead heading into the half.
“Defense has been solid all year. Four special team mishaps and our bad snaps and it’s a different outcome,” said Hollway.
In the second half, the Falcons’ began to impose their will scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter, including two 11-yard TD passes from Walter (one to Chukwneke and the other to Julian Leslie) and a 78-yard TD run from Chukwneke who finished his day with 201 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Peddie would lead 44-6 heading into the fourth quarter.
“We started to execute at the end so we were fortunate to come out on the right side of the scoreboard,” said Peddie head coach Chris Malleo.
With just over five minutes to go in the game, Walters would find Bellan (7 receptions for 146 yards) once again for his third score of the afternoon.
Walters would finish his afternoon 15-for-32 for 242 yards and five touchdown passes.
With the encouragement from Holloway, the Rams’ would not go away without a fight.
Using a nine-play, 72-yard drive consisting mostly of Gernard Finney (14 carries for 81 yards) rushes would end with a 2-yard TD rush from Finney as time expired.
“We’re fighting and we’re getting better,” said Hollway “Down 40-something points, scoring on our last drive with their starters still in the football game and them going vertical at the end. We fought.”
Coach Malleo had nothing but praise for Coach Hollway and the rest of the Hill School staff following the game.
“I admire him, I think he does a wonderful job. I think he’s got the culture going in the right direction and it won’t be long until Hill football is back where it needs to be.”