CHELTENHAM >> Max Bryson threw four touchdown passes, barked out a hard count that gave Neumann-Goretti problems all evening long, and most impressively, the lefty displayed to the chilly fans at Cheltenham High that he possesses quite a nice touch on the deep ball.
“For a rugby player, he sure does,” kidded his head coach, Mike Watkins. “He’s a rugby guy, which I love. He’s tough as nails. He’s that kind of kid.”
Bryson, who plans to play rugby on the college level next season, is doing a pretty nice job on the football field this fall, and on Saturday night against Neumann-Goretti, the senior quarterback led his team to a 42-12 rout of the Saints, giving McDevitt its first Philadelphia Catholic League Blue Division win of the season.
“It’s a heck of a good win — it’s a great feeling, especially with all of the alumni out,” Bryson said, on a night when McDevitt honored its PCL Championship teams of the past at halftime. “We knew we had to get a strong start because in other games, the other team was scoring first and we didn’t want that — we wanted to get the momentum going.”
McDevitt scored on its second possession of the night, when Bryson laid a deep ball right in the hands of Diavante Lloyd, who caught it in stride and raced to the end zone for a 30-yard score, putting the Royal Lancers (2-2, 1-1 PCL Blue) in front, 7-0.
Just moments later, Bryson fired a strike to Frank Illingsworth for a 42-yard touchdown, doubling the Lancer advantage to 14-0 late in the first quarter.
Bryson’s longest throw of the night — a 48-yarder — went to speedy Jaron Macon, who raced home for the TD and made it a 21-6 McDevitt lead midway through the second quarter.
“They were open. The receivers got the separation so it was just a matter of me putting the ball there,” said Bryson, who completed 7-of-13 passes for 164 yards and four scores. “I had a lot of room to work with. The technique of throwing (the deep) ball, you just go through it every time.”
Illingsworth was on his way to three-catch night for 54 yards and Macon added three grabs for 80.
“We were able to get loose on the outside,” Watkins said. “Max did a great job of keeping his eyes downfield and we were able to break some. We missed on a couple too but we were still able to keep the passing game alive.”
Added to that was Bryson’s hard count, which caused six off-sides penalties for the Saints (0-4, 0-1 PCL Blue).
“I was really emphasizing that on the line all week,” Bryson said, “that we had to be more disciplined than the other team.”
McDevitt’s running attack finished things off in the first half and provided a 28-6 cushion at the break. Jack Avallon found a crease and powered into the end zone, his five-yard score capping an eight-play drive.
“From the jump, we wanted to run the ball,” Watkins said. “That’s something we thought we’d able to do from the beginning. We had to make some adjustments in the running game, with where we wanted to attack them, but up front the guys did a really nice job.”
Defensively, the Lancers allowed just a single first down in the opening half and only four for the game.
“We maintained our gap responsibility, kept guys in front of us,” Watkins said. “The defense did a really nice job, stuck to the game plan and didn’t really have to go too far away from it.”
McDevitt closed things out with a pair of scores in the fourth — Macon caught his second touchdown of the night — a 22-yarder, and the Lancers’ offensive line muscled down the clock with a 15-play drive, opening room for R.J. Laurie to make a couple cuts and race away to a 27-yard score.
Young Neumann-Goretti had a pair of big plays, both for TD’s. The first came when Maurice Mazzccua showed off his speed and broke away for a 77-yard run, bringing the Saints within 14-6 in the second quarter.
Goretti’s other score came in the third, when — after a punt by the versatile Bryson backed the Saints up deep — quarterback Sal Emma sprinted 97 yards for a score, making it a 28-12 contest before McDevitt put it away in the final quarter.
“(We had some big plays), just not enough,” Goretti coach Lincoln Townsend Jr. said. “We’re very young — just three seniors. We’re just gonna take this as seasoning and continue to get better.
“The potential is high.”