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Upper Dublin’s offense struggles in District 1-5A semifinal loss to Springfield

Upper Dublin’s Malik Bootman looks for running room against Springfield-Delco during their District 1-5A semifinal on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

SPRINGFIELD >> Upper Dublin’s offense couldn’t get anything going in its season-ending loss to Springfield, 17-6, in the District 1 Class-5A semifinals Friday night at Springfield High School.

The No. 5 seeded Cardinals totaled 28 yards in the first half and one first down. Their second first down didn’t come until the final two minutes of the third quarter. Their first score came with 1:48 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“We sputtered all night,” Upper Dublin coach Bret Stover said. “Hats off to their defense. They were relentless. We saw it on film and we thought we had some things and we just couldn’t get going. They really took it to us, which is unusual for us … A lot of credit to them. They’re number one for a reason.”

Quarterback Julian Gimbel rushed for 55 yards on 14 carries — mostly scrambles. Running backs Malik Bootman and Lucas Roselli combined for eight carries and 15 yards.

Springfield’s Ja’Den McKenzie runs into the end zone during the Cougars’ District 1-5A semifinal against Upper Dublin on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

The Cardinals trailed No. 2 seeded Springfield for nearly the entire game ­­­— falling behind 7-0 after trading three-and-outs, 10-0 midway through the second quarter and 17-0 late in the fourth — but that’s not why they got away from the running game.

“We just couldn’t move the ball,” Stover said. “We couldn’t control their guys up front and unfortunately abandoned (the run). It happened a couple other times over the course of the last five or six years where you just get dominated up front. You have to get a plan B unfortunately. The things we saw in the run game that we thought were there we couldn’t get to. It’s unfortunate, Malik’s a heck of a running back and he didn’t get to display what he could do tonight.”

Gimbel finished 15-for-28 passing with 158 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. The senior quarterback made some nice throws on an eight-play scoring drive late in the fourth quarter. He hit Jack Jamison for six yards on a 4th-and-4 before finding Selvin Hayes deep down the field for a 56-yard gain. He found Jamison in the front left corner of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown.

Up to the task

There aren’t many offenses in District 1 as dangerous as Springfield’s. The 13-0 Cougars scored 40 points five times this season and were held to less than 28 points just twice before the district semifinals.

The Cardinals defense held them to 10 points before a failed fourth down attempt at midfield midway through the fourth quarter gave the Cougars a short field to make it 17.

Upper Dublin’s Mike Slivka looks for running room during game against Springfield-Delco during their District 1-5A semifinal on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

The two highlight plays were a Max Winebrake sack and Mike Slivka interception.

Leading 7-0, Springfield faced a 3rd-and-goal from the nine-yard line. Winebrake found a hole in the offensive line and shot through to drop the quarterback for a 10-yard loss and force the Cougars to settle for a field goal.

On Springfield’s first possession of the second half with a 10-0 lead, the No. 1 seed faced a 3rd-and-6 at the seven-yard line. Quarterback Jack Psenicska rolled right and lobbed a pass into the end zone. Slivka stepped in front of the intended receiver for the interception and went down for a touchback.

“They played lights out,” Stover said. “They really did. I’m proud of them. (Linebackers) Winebrake and Bootman out there — just unbelievable.”

Too many flags

Upper Dublin committed 11 penalties for 105 yards. Four penalties went for 15 yards.

One on the penalties was a third-down defensive pass interference that extended the Cougars field goal drive. Another was a personal foul when the Cardinals had 1st-and-goal at Springfield’s four-yard line. The drive ended with a missed field goal.

“I don’t know if it was us or if it was them or what that was,” Stover said. “That’s just not really characteristic of us. The penalty types were personal fouls, which is really not what we’re known for. I can’t imagine that all those were our doing. I don’t know. I have to watch the film. Can’t blame the officials because their team took it to our team offensively.”

Springfield-Delco quarterback Jack Psenicska looks to pass during the Cougars’ District 1-5A semifinal against Upper Dublin on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

A good run

The loss brings an end to Upper Dublin’s season and an end to the careers of Upper Dublin’s decorated senior class.

“To get to the semifinals of District 1 is an achievement,” Stover said. “We did it in ’14, won the championship in ’15, quarterfinals last year, back in the semis this year. What we’ve built here is a little bit of a tradition. These seniors — all 17 of them — I’m proud of them — the way they upheld what came in front of them. They certainly have nothing to be ashamed of or no need to hide their heads. They played well. They really did. They represented Upper Dublin football well.”

Springfield-Delco 17, Upper Dublin 6
Upper Dublin 0 0 0 6 — 6
Springfield 7 3 0 7 — 17
First Quarter
SP: Ja’den McKenzie 13-yard run (Jack Coary kick) 6:13
Second Quarter
SP: Jack Coary 37-yard field goal 5:07
Fourth Quarter
SP: Jack Psenicska 17-yard pass to Kyle Long (Jack Coary kick) 3:33
UD: Julian Gimbel 12-yard pass to Jack Jamison (kick failed) 1:48
TEAM STATISTICS
UD SPFD
First downs 9 18
Rushes-Yards 22-70 42-173
Passing yards 158 114
Total yards 228 287
Punts-Average 6-41.3 6-32.1
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 11-105 7-50
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Rushing: Upper Dublin — Lucas Roselli 2-(-1)-0, Malik Bootman 6-16-0, Julian Gimbel 14-55-0. Springfield — Ja’den McKenzie 25-106-1, Phil Shovlin 14-72-0, Kyle Long 1-7-0, Jack Psenicska 2-(-12)-0.
Passing: Upper Dublin — Julian Gimbel 15-28-158-1-2. Springfield — Jack Psenicska 9-15-114-1-1.
Receiving: Upper Dublin — Ryan Besachio 3-12-0, Jack Jamison 5-34-1, Malik Bootman 2-0-0, Lucas Roselli 3-57-0, Selvin Haynes 2-55-0. Springfield — Frank Durham 5-60-0, Chris Finizio 1-9-0, Kyle Long 2-30-1, Jack Spence 1-15-0.
Interceptions: Upper Dublin — Mike Slivka. Springfield — Liam Difonzo, Jack Spence.

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