Lower Merion >> Lower Merion’s defense proved to be Aces in the hosts’ 28-0 win against Harriton at Arnold Field Saturday afternoon, holding the visitors to just 56 total yards (rushing and passing).
“Defensively we were superb today,” said Lower Merion head coach Evan Breisblatt. “Defensive coordinator Joe Powell and his staff did an awesome job. Harriton didn’t get many yards running through the middle.”
Breisblatt said Lower Merion senior linemen Xavier Stockman and Khalil Jackson, and senior linebackers Will House and John Trainor (two QB sacks, one interception) led the Aces’ defensive charge.
“I couldn’t have done it without the guys in the middle, and the d-line,” said Trainor. “We had a game plan today to come rushing off the edge.”
Lower Merion senior quarterback Matt O’Connor, who became the school’s all-time leader in passing yards Saturday, noted the excitement of playing a team in the same school district.
“We all played together in youth football, at St. Margaret’s, so it’s always fun to play against Harriton,” said O’Connor.
The emotional play on both team led to a referees’ flag fest, as Lower Merion was penalized 10 times for 120 yards.
Breisblatt said, “We definitely didn’t play our ‘A’ game today, there were a lot of penalties and unnecessary stuff going on, but when you get into a rivalry like this with sister schools playing each other and emotions running high, then these things tend to happen.”
The Aces got an electrifying jolt from senior Jaden Helton, who ran the game’s opening kickoff back 99 yards for a touchdown.
Early in the second quarter, Lower Merion pinned Harriton back on its own 9 yard line, then forced a punt. When the Aces’ subsequent drive seemingly stalled at the Rams’ 27, on 4th-and-2, Jalen Goodman broke loose inside for an 18-yard gain. Three plays later, the Aces had their second touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Midway through the third quarter, the Aces began to pound the ball, running eight straight times for 58 yards, the final one an 8-yard TD run by Goodman to make it 20-0.
For the day, Goodman rushed for 96 yards on 19 carries, and catching eight passes for 80 yards.
“We ask a lot of Jalen, he’s one of the best athletes in this league,” said Breisblatt. “He’s multi-faceted, he can run with the football, he can catch it, he can block; plus he does a good job on defense. And I though DShawn Jemison (nine carries, 56 yards) ran the ball well today and blocked well.
“We were able to run the football pretty effectively today, they gave us a five-man box and tried to take away our passing game.”
Breisblatt also praised the Aces’ senior offensive line of Micah Buckman, Will House, Bram Hollis, Xavier Stockman and Edward Zhang.
“We were running the ball pretty well today,” said O’Connor. “Our offensive line did a great job of blocking, and Jalen [Goodman] is a dynamic runner.”
In the fourth quarter, the Aces made their final touchdown drive, with O’Connor hitting Goodman twice on crucial fourth-down plays. On 4th-and-9 at the Aces’ 38, O’Connor hit Goodman for a 10-yard gain; then on 4th-and-6 at the Harriton 36, O’Connor and Goodman hooked up for 22 yards.
“Matt is so smart, he’s accurate and has good mechanics,” said Breisblatt.
Harriton head coach Justin Mellor said, “Lower Merion has some really, really good athletes. We tried to keep them in front of us, and I think we did a pretty good job defensively. We just couldn’t sustain enough of our offense to limit Lower Merion’s possessions.”
Mellor noted the fine performances of Ram defenders Harry Thomas, Jack Rosenfeld, Max Copley (interception) and Mike Stewart, and mentioned the emotional pitch of the neighborhood rivalry.
“A lot of the kids in this [LM-Harriton] game have grown up playing football together and they take a lot of pride in a game like this,” said Breisblatt.
Lower Merion 28, Harriton 0
Harriton 0 0 0 0 – 0
Lower Merion 7 7 6 8 – 28
LM-Helton, 99, kickoff return (Kosto kick)
LM – Jackson, 1, run (Kosto kick)
LM-Goodman, 8, run (kick failed)
LM – Helton, 14, run (Jemison run)
First downs 8 16
Rushes-yards 27-22 36-195
Passing yards 34 105
Total yards 56 300
Passes 6-18-1 12-22-1
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-2
Punts-Avg. 8-25.3 1-28.0
Penalties 6-39 10-120
Rushing: Harriton – Crewell 9-minus 1, Rosenfeld 8-19, Molineaux 7-15, Stewart 3-minus 11; Lower Merion – Goodman 19-96 TD, Jemison 5-56, O’Connor 5-14, Helton 3-24 TD, Jackson 2-1 TD, Roberts 1-minus 3, Sahrnor 1-7.
Passing: Harriton – M. Stewart 6-18-1, 34 yards; Lower Merion – O’Connor 12-22-1, 105 yards.
Receiving: Harriton – Rosenfeld 1-4, Copley 2-13, Creswell 1-7, B. Stewart 1-8, Molineaux 1-2; Lower Merion – Goodman 8-80, Green 2-19, Jemison 1-0, Holder 1-6.
Interceptions: Harriton – Copley; Lower Merion – Trainor.
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