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Cardinal O’Hara’s defense scores 2 TDs in shutout win over Lansdale Catholic

Cardinal O'Hara's Taseer Jones dodges away from Lansdale Catholic's Jake Doheny and Danny Pelligrino on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

LOWER GWYNEDD >> Justin Santilla made the jump from cornerback to linebacker this week and not even a quarter of football had gone by Saturday night when the senior scooped up a fumble and was racing away down the sideline for a touchdown.

“(Cameron Blair) helped me, actually helped me stay up,” Santilla said of his 47-yard return. “He just told me to run after that.”

Just like that, the first touchdown of the night was scored by the defense, and it was defense that ruled for Cardinal O’Hara in a 31-0 shutout of rival Lansdale Catholic.

“I got moved to linebacker this week so we could make more plays up towards the line,” said Santilla, part of a swarming defense by O’Hara that created four LC turnovers, returning two for scores. “I think we did well — we didn’t let them score. I’m proud of our boys. We played excellent tonight.

“(LC) has a real good running back (in Matt Casee) and (Danny Dutkiewicz) isn’t bad either — he’s only a sophomore. Coach (B.J. Hogan) was telling us we have to pound away — (LC’s) gonna try to run the ball all game.”

Casee gained 108 yards for the Crusaders and Dutkiewicz added 40, but the Lions (5-1, 2-1 PCL Blue) kept making key stops and — most importantly — forced the four turnovers that the Crusaders (2-4, 2-2 PCL Blue) could not recover from.

“Turnovers are what we haven’t done, and we did it all in one night,” LC coach Tom Kirk said. “I hope we got that out of our system because you can’t do that against any team, especially a team like O’Hara that’s gonna capitalize on it.

“Their defense is very tough. They’re disciplined. And against a team like that, you can’t turn the ball over. So I’m disappointed in the way we played. I do believe this was somewhat of an anomaly but I want the kids to remember what this feels like.”

Lansdale Catholic’s Danny Dutkiewicz gets swamped by Cardinal O’Hara’s defense during their game on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

After an earlier field goal of 22 yards by Kevin Calamita, Santilla’s fumble return increased the O’Hara lead to 10-0 on a warm, windy night on the turf at Wissahickon.

Midway through the second quarter, the Lions forced another Crusader turnover and two plays later, Santilla gatherined in a short slant from quarterback Luke Sprague, good for six yards and a 17-0 O’Hara lead at the half.

“We knew (LC) was playing press man because we run the ball a lot,” Santilla said of the offense, which gained 235 yards on the ground. “Our receivers coach was telling us to win (our match-up) every time and the quarterback will get us the ball.

“I was in a three-week (scoring) drought so it feels good now. (Taseer Jones) and I are having a competition. I gotta catch up to him.”

It was Jones who provided the next score for the Lions, again on defense. He intercepted Crusader quarterback Michael Dutkiewicz on a 4th-and-7 and returned it 91 yards for a touchdown, widening the margin to 24-0 early in the fourth quarter.

The Lions capped things off when Nick Kutufaris blew through a seam up the middle and took it all the way for an 89-yard touchdown and a 31-0 lead.

“We won the (PCL Blue) last year and want it again this year,” said Santilla, who caught three passes for 22 yards and a touchdown in addition to his impressive play at linebacker. “We gotta get it.”

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