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Strong second half helps ANC top Lower Moreland

BRYN ATHYN >> Nothing feels better than winning.

Lower Moreland’s football team learned that a few weeks ago when it topped Morrisville. The Lions were hoping to experience it again when they went to their actual backyard rival, Academy of the New Church, Saturday afternoon.

It was the Lions of ANC however, that felt the euphoria of winning as they topped Lower Moreland 23-9 to break into the win column for the first time in 2017.

“It feels great,” ANC sophomore running back Devin Bryant said. “We played together as a team in another good game. We blocked everybody, we put people on their butts and even though a couple got called back, we fought through those penalties.”

ANC’s last win, coincidentally against Lower Moreland, came in the team’s season opener last year, so it had been a while since anyone on the roster had experienced a win. Given that the team is almost exclusively sophomores, Saturday was the first time some of them had ever played in a varsity win.

The team is so young, with just one senior and five juniors, that head coach Ty Klippenstein said the goal for the rest of the season is building a core for the future and keeping the key components of the team playing together.

“I’ve been trying to tell the kids we’re almost an entirely sophomore team so we just need to stick together as a team and use this season to get better,” Klippenstein said. “Obviously every kid wants to win everything and they get mad when they don’t but the longterm view is we have to keep these guys together. If this season ends up, if the record isn’t good but we’re able to keep the team together, I’ll take it as a win.”

ANC (1-5) is clearly building for the future but in almost as many ways, so is Lower Moreland. LM, under the direction of first-year head coach Justin Beck, is working to instill not only a new system but a new identity and resiliency. The win over Morrisville was a huge step in the right direction.

On Saturday, Lower Moreland (1-4, 1-2 Bicentennial Athletic League) hurt itself with turnovers and general attrition as Bryant and junior Zahir Reed’s tough running seemed to wear down LM in the second half.

“It made it an uphill battle for us all day,” Beck said. “In the first half, we were able to keep up with them a little better but in the second half, they got (Bryant) going and (Reed) going and those guys are really skilled athletes who didn’t seem to get tired at any point. They played as well in the fourth quarter as they did in the first and that’s not really something we can say we did today.”

ANC scored on its first two drives of the game, with sophomore quarterback Jeb Brenfleck throwing a pair of TD passes. On the first, a short pass to Bryant saw the sophomore power through a tackle, then keep his feet moving as he bullied 17 yards to the endzone.

Brenfleck’s second TD pass was just a spectacular play by Sam van Zyverden. The sophomore, who has recently been pressed into starting duty, made a leaping grab on a prayer pass by Brenfleck for a 29-yard score.

On top of having a youthful roster, injuries have hit the Lions hard the last few weeks, so ANC has been asking a lot of some kids.

“One of our best players got hurt in the second or third week, so our team is totally different without him,” Klippenstein said. “Last week we lost a couple of other guys who are important to us, but credit to the guys who came out and stepped up. Sam wasn’t doing starting in Week 3 and now he’s an ever-present player for us on both sides.”

Lower Moreland responded with its only scoring drive of the game, capped when Coleman Peppelman hit Forrest Keys for a nine-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter. Peppelman only completed two more passes after the TD and threw three interceptions as the Lions’ comeback bid sputtered out in the second half.

A botched snap in the third quarter did lead to a safety for Lower Moreland, cutting the score to 13-9. However, Bryant would pick off Peppelman on the ensuing drive and ANC used the turnover to get a 25-yard field goal from Jimmy Melvin with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.

“Ty is a really good coach and he had scouted us well, so it was frustrating because they had done such a good job on us it made it difficult to move the ball,” Beck said. “We were counting on some guys who might not be the No. 1 option every day to step up and make plays. That’s a lot to ask of guys who might not have had those opportunities in earlier games.”

Beck said this year’s team is the most competitively motivated group Lower Moreland has had in a few years and he’s proud of the effort his guys have given so far. The next step is to start finding complementary playmakers on both sides of the ball to start easing some of the heavy burden on the team’s two-way leaders.

A promising ANC drive was thwarted when Keys picked off Brenfleck, but Michael Trost picked off Peppelman one play later to get the ball back. The homestanding Lions were able to then ice the game on a flag-filled drive thanks to the hard running of Bryant and Reed.

Bryant ripped off a 23-yard run on second-and-goal, absorbing a big hit, popping up and giving an emphatic point to some of his family members in attendance along the sideline. The next play, Reed ran in from two yards out for the game-sealing score.

“While we were in the huddle, I was just telling the guys ‘come on, we’ve got it, let’s go get this first win,’” Bryant said. “We all wanted it so bad, so Zahir and I kept repeating in their ears, getting it in their heads and it happened for us.”

ACADEMY OF THE NEW CHURCH 23, LOWER MORELAND 9
ACADEMY OF THE NEW CHURCH 7 6 3 7 – 23
LOWER MORELAND 0 7 2 0 – 9

Scoring Plays
1st Quarter
ANC – Jeb Brenfleck 17 pass to Devin Bryant (Jimmy Melvin kick) 7:33
2nd Quarter
ANC – Brenfleck 29 pass to Sam van Zyverden (kick miss) 11:00
LM – Coleman Peppelman 9 pass to Forrest Keys (Matt Stefurak kick) 6:44
3rd Quarter
LM – Saftey 8:22
ANC – Jimmy Melvin 25 field goal :26
4th Quarter
ANC – Zahir Reed 2 run 1:36 (Melvin kick)

Team Stats
ANC LM
First Downs 14 5
Rushes-Yards 33-158 20-56
Passing 7-15-2-1 7-18-1-3
Passing Yards 132 63
Total Yards 290 119
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-2
Penalties-Yards 10-86 3-20

Individual Stats
Rushing: ANC – Devin Bryant 15-102, Zahir Reed 13-62, Tyrese Lesane 1-3, Jeb Brenfleck 4-(-9); LM – Matt Stefurak 10-35, Frankie Rosario 2-3, Coleman Peppelman 5-14, Nicholas Derderian 1-2, Forrest Keys 2-2
Passing: ANC – Brenfleck 7-15-2-1-132; LM – Peppelman 7-18-1-3-63.
Receiving: ANC – Greg Clark 3-61, Bryant 3-42, Sam van Zyverden 1-29; LM – Keys 4-42, Stefurak 3-21.
Interceptions: ANC – van Zyverden, Bryant, Michael Trost; LM – Keys 2.

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