MIDDLETOWN >> Radnor started off the season well enough, winning four of its first six games.
Then the Raiders suddenly couldn’t find the end zone, losing three consecutive games scoring just 20 total points.
Radnor’s defense held down the fort, allowing those three opponents an average of 15 points a game.
That all changed Friday night as Radnor’s offense reinvented itself, defeating Penncrest, 35-13, at Louis Scott Field.
“The last few games have been pretty frustrating offensively,” quarterback Sean Mullarkey said. “We just took it out on the field tonight.”
The game was scoreless at the end of the first quarter. It looked like it might be another long night for the Raiders offense. Then the junior quarterback Mullarkey, behind his offensive line, got to work by scoring on rushes of five and 32 yards to go up 14-0 with 2:11 left in the first half.
Penncrest (3-7, 3-6 Central) pressed to get a score before intermission, but turned the ball over when cornerback Teddy Girton intercepted Chris Mills on the Lions 30-yard line.
Three plays later, Mullarkey rewarded Girton for his pick by hitting him with a 28-yard strike to give the Raiders (5-5, 3-5) a 21-0 lead at halftime.
Penncrest made it worse, fumbling the second half kickoff at their 14-yard line. Radnor’s Matt Cohen scored on the first play making it a 28-0 advantage.
Andrew Pidgeon and his Lions continued to play hard but could not recover.
“I just think we needed to settle in a little, early,” Radnor coach Tom Ryan said. “Coach Pidgeon does a good job with his team. They had a good first quarter, then our offense took over a little bit. Sean Mullarkey scoring early was great and with not just running the ball, we had some really good passes as well. Our O-line has been playing really well all year. And the defense just continues to play well.”
Mullarkey led Radnor going 11 of 17 for 147 yards and two touchdown passes. He rushed six times for 36 yards. Cohen added 89 yards on 14 carries and his TD.
Mullarkey, like most smart quarterbacks and running backs, wanted no part of the credit for scoring his team’s first two touchdowns.
“Our O-line really stepped up,” Mullarkey said. “We just got in a groove, and once we get in a groove, we’re not going to be stopped.”
Mills led Penncrest going 7 of 17 for 124 yards, one touchdown pass and an interception before leaving the game with an injury.
Penncrest’s offense came alive to score 13 points in the second half.
“Our guys were tough, we were battling injuries throughout the game,” Pidgeon said. “Our guys were tough, a couple breaks went their way. But they’re a great team. Coach Ryan does a great job with those guys. But our guys stuck with it all four quarters and I’m proud of them.”
The win almost assures that the Raiders will not be facing one of the top three seeds when the PIAA District One AAAAA playoffs get underway in two weeks.
“We’ll probably be (No.) 13 or 12,” Ryan said. “And that’s a lot better.”
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