Miller, Dorsey are too much for Upper Darby

TREDYFFRIN — Conestoga has been in a playoff mode since it dropped back-to-back games to Central League leader Springfield and Haverford, and that sense of urgency was abundantly evident during Friday’s wild 43-27 victory over Upper Darby at Teamer Field.

Every time the Royals made a play to keep it close, the Pioneers had a response. It’s what a team has to do when it’s trying to make the playoffs for the first time in five years.

“We’re playing for the name on our jerseys and on our helmet,’ quarterback Tim Miller said. “It’s something we do before every game. We tap the name on our jersey and the letter on our helmet to remind us of that.’

And so, with no margin for error, the Pioneers (7-2 , 6-2 Central League) didn’t hold back. They used big plays and just enough defense to fend off the Royals.

Miller threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns, both to Martin Dorsey. The first one broke a scoreless tie. The second was an 81-yard hookup on a bubble screen that gave the Pioneers a 36-21 lead with 4:27 to play. Those were Dorsey’s only two catches of the game.

And then there was the running of Corey Manning, Parke Schweiter and Daquan Perry. The trio combined for 266 yards before a sack and a couple of kneel-downs dropped Conestoga’s total to 257 yards on 39 tries. Manning had 114 to those yards and a TD. Schweither scored three times and finished with 91 yards on 15 carries.

It was the big plays, though, that made a difference for the Pioneers. That and a 17-second stretch in the second quarter. Manning sprinted 64 yards for his touchdown. Dorsey had the 81-yard TD reception and Perry sprinted 61 yards on the first play from scrimmage in the second half to set up Schweiter’s second TD.

“Our offensive line did a great job,’ Conestoga coach John Vogan said. “They give away 45-50 pounds nearly every game, but they’re relentless. They’re the reason we’re able to run and throw the ball.’

Conestoga needed every weapon in its offensive arsenal because Upper Darby (4-5, 3-4) would not go away, even though the Royals lost starting quarterback Christoff Minott to an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the second quarter.

Backup Charles Kanneh stepped in, and the Upper Darby offense didn’t miss a beat. The junior quarterback completed 5 of 12 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns and also carried the ball 12 times for 48 yards.

Kanneh threw a 53-yard scoring strike to Amadou Berry with 33 seconds left in the first half to cut Conestoga’s lead to 22-14 at the break. Kanneh teamed up with Justin Durbin on a 43-yard scoring play to make it a 36-27 game with 4:27 to play in the third quarter.

“That was huge for us,’ Upper Darby coach Rich Gentile said. “We could have collapsed right there, but we didn’t. Charles did a great job and the rest of the kids hung in there and kept fighting.’

If the Royals could have found a way to stop the big plays, maybe the outcome would have been different.

“We have to stop people,’ Gentile said. “That’s been our problem all year. We don’t stop people on a consistent basis. We stop a play three-or-four times and then the other team breaks one off for a big play. That’s something we have to fix and not just for this year. We have a young team so we have to fix it so it won’t be a problem next year.’

Manning’s TD run came on a trap, which Upper Darby stopped most of the night. Perry’s run also was a trap play. Dorsey’s second TD was a simple bubble screen that he took to the house. But that’s what teams in the playoff hunt do, they make plays and Conestoga made enough to keep its playoff hopes alive.

A win at home over Garnet Valley, which rallied for a 44-41 victory over Haverford, would lock up a spot in the District One Tournament.

“It’s going to be a great game,’ Dorsey said.


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