BRISTOL TWP. >> Lansdale Catholic had just gone ahead for the first time, a five-yard, play-action pass from quarterback Mike Dutkiewicz to a wide open Jake Doheny pushing the Crusaders in front, 7-6, in the final minute of the first half Friday night.
Moments later, Conwell-Egan’s Terome Mitchell stood at his own 30-yard line, poised to return the ensuing kickoff.
“In my mind, I was thinking I gotta score somehow, some way, to put us back on top,” said Mitchell. “I just followed my blockers, took off and I scored.”
Mitchell took the kick back 78 yards for a score, and the game was never the same.
The Eagles went on to a 44-20 victory in the District 1/12-3A Regional Final, advancing to next week’s PIAA-3A Quarterfinals with the winner of the Palisades-Lehighton match-up (Saturday).
“We were more disciplined and had less turnovers,” Mitchell said of what helped Egan win the rematch with its Philadelphia Catholic League rival (LC took the regular-season battle, 31-21). “(On special teams) we just put our heart into it.”
Mitchell’s kickoff return, in which he followed his blocks then showed a tremendous burst of speed in breaking it left and racing to the corner, put Egan in front 12-7 with 15 seconds left before the break.
Mitchell wasn’t done.
He then fought his way in for the two-point conversion, making it a 14-7 Eagle advantage.
“I kind of bobbled and I dropped it, and I thought I have to make a play now,” Mitchell said. “I just forced it outside and I got in.”
Mitchell’s bag of tricks wasn’t empty yet. He even recovered the ensuing kickoff when LC had troubled fielding it, giving the Eagles another crack at the end zone with 10 seconds to go.
After two incompletions though, a blocked field-goal attempt ended the half. But Mitchell had put Egan in front for good.
Said the junior of his second-quarter heroics: “I just put my heart into it. I love the game of football. I do everything I can to help the team win.”
Eagle momentum carried into the third quarter, as Dajuan Harris blocked a punt out of the end zone for a safety and quarterback Alex Goldsby scored on a six-yard draw to make it 23-7 Egan (6-6).
After the Crusaders got to within 23-13 on a three-yard surge by Matt Casee (60 yds, 2 TD) — the two-point run would be stopped short, Egan widened the margin to 30-13 when Goldsby scored on an eight-yard bootleg.
Goldsby had 53 yards rushing, Mitchell added 36, and then there was Patrick Garwo, who mixed powerful bursts with long gainers to amass a total of 196 yards rushing.
“Watching him is making me better,” Mitchell said, “because I see what he does and it makes me wanna do better and do better things.”
Garwo pushed his way in from a yard out to stretch the Egan lead to 37-13 in the fourth, and after Casee scored on a one-yarder for LC (5-7), Garwo galloped away for a 39-yard TD, capping the scoring on this cold night on the turf at Truman.
Garwo got the scoring started in the second quarter with a seven-yard touchdown. LC blocked the extra-point attempt and went ahead on the Dutkiewicz-to-Doheny connection, but then Mitchell and Egan dashed into the lead.
“Just like that,” Crusaders coach Tom Kirk said. “And you talk about big plays. What we said coming into this was we couldn’t give them big plays. I wish it hadn’t happened but it did. Egan capitalized.
“(Egan) played a really good game tonight.”
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