UPPER DUBLIN >> When John Kohlbrenner plucked the football off the punter’s foot and raced 37 yards to the end zone, Upper Dublin coach Bret Stover needed a moment to figure out exactly what the sophomore did.
“From where my angle was I thought he blocked it and then he was chasing it down,” Stover said. “And all of a sudden I saw the white stripe under his arm I was like, ‘Does he have that in his hand?’ They’re like, ‘Oh yeah, he’s got it.’”
For Kohlbrenner, the punt block was all about getting the timing right.
“In the punt before I kind of misread the snap count and I knew that next time I got up there if I read it right then I would be able to get through easy,” he said. “And I kind of just got up there, put my arms out, just kind of fell in.”
Kohlbrenner’s impressive special-teams score gave the Cardinals a 28-0 lead in the second quarter as second-seeded Upper Dublin wasted little time piling up the points on a rainy Friday night.
The Cards needed just two plays to convert a pair of Phantoms turnovers into a 14-0 lead 2:02 into the District 1-5A first-round contest. It was the start of 41 straight points for Upper Dublin, which rolled past No. 15 Phoenixville for a 41-12 win at Cardinal Stadium.
“You can’t be any more efficient or script it better than that for a start, which is good cause that’s what you want,” Stover said. “You want to come out and you want to play your best football this time of year. I thought we played well tonight. We still made mistakes, we’re still going to have to get better but I like what we’re doing right now.”
Lucas Roselli finished with four touchdowns – three rushing – while quarterback Mike Slivka threw for a pair of scores as Upper Dublin (9-1) advanced the district quarterfinals for the fifth straight season.
“We got the ball inside the 20 both times on that so we’re bound to score if we’re that close,” Roselli said. “Two plays, two touchdowns.”
The Cardinals host Suburban One League American Conference rival Cheltenham in the quarters after the No. 8 Panthers topped No. 9 West Chester East 28-21. UD began its current six-game win streak with a 20-7 victory over Cheltenham in Week 6.
“The thing is we know each other so well, that’s what interesting about playing them again,” Stover said. “It’s nice that we can play them at home cause their field’s a little rough to play on sometimes. But they’re going to come over here, they’re not going to be intimidated by us putting up points, I can tell you that.
“I know (Cheltenham coach) Ryan (Nase) is going to have them ready to play and we’re going to respect them coming in here for use because they can come over here and knock us off.”
On Friday’s opening series, Selvin Haynes’ interception set Upper Dublin up at the Phoenixville 14 and on the next play Slivka rolled left and found Haynes for a 14-yard score at 9:58 in the first quarter.
UD doubled the lead just 57 seconds later after recovering a fumble at the Phantoms 13 yards. On first down, Roselli took a jet sweep to the right side and dashed to the end zone at 9:01.
“It kind of resembled the night,” Phoenixville coach Don Grinstead said. “We started out with two turnovers down in our own territory and you gift them 14 points right there – they’re good enough to not gift them any points but we did that and it was all downhill from there, man.
“I was proud of our kids in the second half. I thought we fought, we fought pretty well.”
Travis Pannella had a game-high 101 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries for the Phantoms (4-7), who were making their first district appearance since 2013.
“It’s about the foundation of the program. I think that parts been laid now we got to do the work,” Grinstead said. “Foundation’s been laid in the fact that we could compete in our conference this year, we’ve been in almost every game we’ve played and a couple have come down the wire that haven’t gone our way. But I think to be able to do that and get to the playoffs first the first time in (five) years is a good building step for our young guys to show them where we’re going.”
Roselli’s 54 yards on six carries paced Upper Dublin, which pulled its starters leading after holding a 41-6 halftime lead and the 35-point running clock in effect. Of the Cards’ five touchdown drives, their longest began at the 50.
“It was just our line dominating their d-line,” Roselli said. “And just being patient, reading the blocks and trusting the coaches.”
Roselli made it 21-0 UD with 48.4 seconds left in the first quarter as the senior used a spin move to avoid a tackle then found open space to his right for a 17-yard touchdown run.
“I hit the hole and then I noticed there was an opening to the right, so I kind of juked to the right and then someone pulled out of nowhere so I kind of spun off that,” Roselli said. “And then there was no one else there.”
Kohlbrenner’s TD off his punt block extended the lead to 28-0 at 10:19 in the second quarter. Roselli’s 13-yard touchdown run put Upper Dublin up 34-0 at 3:19.
Slivka rolled left and found Roselli in the front corner of the end zone for a 29-yard TD strike and a 41-0 lead with 52.4 seconds left in the half.
“Mike’s really good at scrambling, so I know you just to go stay on your routes and he’ll get you the ball,” Roselli said. “You just got to catch it.”
The Phantoms got on the scoreboard with just 2.3 seconds left before the break, quarterback Connor Patania connected with Anthony Stevenson for a 17-yard touchdown on 4th-and-13.
Phoenixville added another touchdown at 9:22 in the fourth as Pannella plowed over the goal line from two yards out.
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