West Goshen >> In front of a Homecoming crowd Friday evening, host West Chester East shook off a shaky start and patiently ground out a 28-10 win over Bishop Shanahan.
On the game’s opening drive, Shanahan rolled downfield steadily for a 12-play, 63-yard touchdown drive and a 7-0 lead 5 1/2 minutes into the game.
But it didn’t faze the Vikings.
“Right after they scored, I told our O-line, ‘Let’s go get it, let’s go back and score right back on them,’” said East senior running back Pierre Marchant, the Ches-Mont League’s leading ground gainer.
“We didn’t think negative, we just kept on fighting,” added East junior running back Kyle Cichanowsky. “Our offensive line kept fighting and kept blocking the whole game. They executed really good this game.”
The Vikings (4-3, 1-2) did not allow a touchdown the rest of the game, while they patiently plugged away for first downs on offense. Midway through the second quarter, East put together a five-play, 59-yard TD drive that was highlighted by three solid runs by Marchant and a 16-yard pass from senior quarterback Ryan Cassidy to senior wide receiver Michael Gray. Cormac Dooley’s extra point tied the score 7-7 with 5:07 to go before halftime.
Shanahan (3-4, 1-3) came right back with a 34-yard pass completion from junior quarterback Charlie Maddocks to senior wide receiver Vincent Riccardo, and a few plays later, junior Connor Bailey booted a 39-yard field goal to give the visitors a 10-7 lead that lasted through halftime.
West Chester East head coach Scott Stephen said, “We knew Shanahan was a good team, and they played well the first half, but we were a little tight (early) — I don’t know if it was because of Homecoming, or if it was because we had the day off from school (Friday). We took a deep breath at halftime, we relaxed, and we focused on things that we could do, that we needed to do, and in the second half, it was all about execution.
“We talk about it all the time to our players — just do your 1/11th of the job, and just execute your play. When you get 11 players getting to the ball and doing the right things, you’re going to make plays on a consistent basis.”
On the first play from scrimmage after halftime, Marchant burst up the middle for a 55-yard gain, and a few minutes later, Cichanowsky scored on a 10-yard run up the middle that put the Vikings ahead for good, 14-10.
In the second half, the East running attack really got rolling. Marchant (152 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 18 carries) and Cichanowsky (98 yards on 18 carries) carried the load, along with the offensive line.
Senior right tackle Braeden Legenstein said, “The Homecoming energy was insane today, it was awesome. I told these guys (East runners), ‘Run behind me, I’ll block, you run. Find us (linemen) and run off us.”
Stephen said, “We’ve said that it all starts with the guys up front, both on the defensive line and the offensive line, and they both really did their jobs in the second half.”
On the offensive line, Stephen mentioned the fine jobs performed by Legenstein, and juniors Hugh Lemmon-Kishi, Joe Carozza, George Andraos and Syncere Cooper.
Cichanowsky said: “We trust our line, and they trust us.”
Defensively, the Vikings were clamping down on Shanahan, and junior defensive lineman Anthony Mattia had three second-half quarterback sacks.
Stephen said, “Anthony Mattia had a great game — he’s been out the last two games and he kind of set the tone from a defensive line standpoint, and we looked to feed off of that.”
Late in the third quarter, Cassidy lofted a 17-yard pass into the left corner of the end zone, where a tightly-covered John Wileczek made a leaping catch for a touchdown and a 21-10 lead.
Midway through the fourth quarter, East put togther a nine-play, 59-yard touchdown drive — which included eight running plays by Marchant and Cichanowsky. One key play on the drive was on 4th-and-3 from the Shanahan 19 yard line, where Cichanowsky bolted for a five yard gain and a first down.
Shanahan head coach Paul Meyers said, “Our offense sputtered after our first drive, but after the game, I told our players we’re still on the playoff bubble, our (postseason) destiny is still on our hands. We have our Homecoming next week (Oct. 12) against Avon Grove.”
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