BENSALEM – Council Rock South knew coming into last night’s key Suburban One National League battle at Bensalem that the Owls were a dangerous opponent, from scrimmage and on special teams.
The visiting Hawks came in with a plan – squib the kickoffs to limit speedy Jared O’Connell on returns and utilize a ground assault to keep Bensalem’s offense on the bench.
As an added bonus, CR South scooped up a pair of fumbles by the Owls on special teams including a muff committed by Bensalem on the opening kickoff.
Taking control of the ball in the opening seconds near midfield, it took the Hawks just six plays to reach the end zone, with quarterback Christian Jabbar throwing four times for 33 yards on the scoring drive that put CR South up 7-0 just 2:01 into the contest.
“We did a nice job of eating the clock up. Coach (John) Franco and his offensive staff had a great game plan – keeping them off-balance, running the power game, throwing the ball when we had to and the kids just executed everything great,” said CR South head coach Vince Bedesem.
While O’Connell showed just how dangerous he could be, racing 36 yards on an end-around that reached the 1 yard line before a touchdown-saving tackle by Sammy Vaniver, the Owls fumbled the ball back two plays later.
From there, the Hawks took control, not only scoring on Elias Mayo’s second touchdown of the game but eating up all but 4:53 of the first-half clock on a scoring drive that took 22 plays, putting South on top, 14-0.
Anchoring a Hawks’ ground assault that tallied 283 yards was Mayo, who registered 158 rushing yards on 24 carries including two touchdowns.
“He’s now finally getting his legs,” added Bedesem. “He struggled with an illness early on in the season and he’s come full circle and done a great job with it.”
Jabbar also performed spendidly, rushing 13 times for 44 yards while throwing for another 51 yards on 9 of 14 attempts.
“More and more every week, Christian is becoming the kid we knew he could be,” said Bedesem. “Coming back from last year, building onto that, becoming a vital part of the basketball team – that serves us well. When you’re over there with (basketball) coach (Derek) Wright and you’re competing and you’re getting in a lot of games when it means something to compete, we’re reaping the benefits of that now.”
South had to chance to go up three touchdowns when Jake Lauch recovered the Owls’ third fumbled of the first half – again on a muffed squib kick. However, Andre Vera’s apparent 23-yard TD run was called back on a holding call and Jabbar’s fourth-down pass was picked off by Parrish at the 1 yard line.
That meant the Hawks had to be content going into the locker room with a 14-0 lead.
“(Bensalem) is a team that has proven itself,” said Bedesem. “Against a strong Abington team, they proved they could come back. They were down two scores against Abington at halftime and came back just like that.
“It’s a scary thing but you have to come back and focus.
That’s exactly what the Hawks did, though they failed to control the ball the way they did in the first half when they possessed it for all but 11 plays. After the intermission, South went 3-and-out on three of six second-half drives.
Time and again, Bensalem helped the visitors’ cause, this time, fumbling the ball away at their own 26 yard line on their first play from scrimmage coming back from the break.
From there, it took CR South just seven plays to reach the end zone again, with Jabbar finding Division 1 prospect Eric Gallo all alone in the right-hand corner of the end zone for a 3-yard TD pass that put the Hawks up 21-0 with 7:30 still to play in the third quarter.
Mayo may have fumbled on South’s next possession but, coming at Bensalem’s 12 yard line, it didn’t really hurt CR the Hawks’ cause. Helping them on the Owls’ next possession was a block by sophomore Shemar Mills who blocked a Bensalem punt deep in the opposing end. Scooping the ball up was senior Shane Carter, who put CR South up, 28-0.
“We’re a safe-block team so up front we may only have a four man rush,” said Bedesem. “But those guys are on a full go-go-go. And they took advantage of it.
“The opportunity was there and they came up on the block. The scoop and score is something we practice on a daily basis.”
Showing some of that electric offense that got the Owls off to a 4-0 start, Bensalem took advantage of a short field on its next passion, with QB Drasaun Moore throwing a 41-yard strike to O’Connell along the right sideline and Parrish taking it the rest of the way to put Bensalem on the board one minute into the fourth quarter.
After a 3-and-out by the Hawks, O’Connell struck again, this time, returning a punt all the way back to South’s 18 yard line. From there, Bensalem needed just three plays to reach the end zone again, this time, on a 23-yard scoring aerial from Moore to O’Connell that notched the 14th point for the home team in a span of less than three and a half minutes.
Fortunately for Hawks’ football fans, the defense forced a turnover on downs on the Owls’ next passion and from there, Chase Patterson’s 5-yard TD run iced CR South’s third win of the season, one that was badly needed by the visitors.
“We’re a one-game at a time, team,” said Bedesem. “We have three huge games in front of us and this is what it’s all about.
“We’re still in the hunt.”
Next up, the Hawks travel to Pennsbury Friday, Oct. 13 before wrapping up the regular season at home against Neshaminy (Oct. 20) and sister school CR North (Oct. 27).
Council Rock South 35, Bensalem 14
(Oct. 6 at Bensalem)
CR SOUTH (3-4) 7 7 7 14 – 35
BENSALEM (4-3) 0 0 0 14 – 14
CRS — Elias Mayo 14 run (Andrew Witten Kick)
CRS — Mayo 2 run (Witten Kick)
CRS — Nick Gallo 3 pass from Christian Jabbar (Witten Kick)
CRS — Shane Carter 10 return blocked punt (Witten Kick)
B — Keith Parrish 5 run (Dawson Fontaine kick)
B — Jared O’Connell 23 pass from Drasaun Moore (Fontaine kick)
CRS — Chase Patterson 5 run (Witten Kick)