Divos, Bruce lead the way for Upper Darby

UPPER DARBY — The cut across the bridge of Linder Divos’ nose was not fresh.

“It reopened on me,’ said Divos, the Upper Darby senior running back. “That’s just from me running, hitting, doing it all, I guess.’

Unwilling to take Friday’s game lightly, Divos and Upper Darby pounded Penn Wood, 50-12, at Memorial Field.

The Royals got a pair of first-half touchdowns from both Divos and Isaiah Bruce, en route to a 43-0 lead at halftime. Divos, who had seven carries for 78 yards, and Bruce, who toted 11 times for a team-best 87 yards rushing, led the way.

For coach Rich Gentile’s team, there was something for which to play. The Royals (6-5) have their annual Thanksgiving Day date with rival Haverford waiting for them in less than three weeks. The Fords (7-4), who bowed Friday in the first round of the District One Class AAAA playoffs, have won four consecutive Turkey Day tilts.

“I’ve never played against Haverford,’ said Divos, who over the summer moved to the Upper Darby School District from Rock Island, Ill., “but I know rivalry games. We know there’s stuff we have to do and get ready for.’

The Royals will do plenty of weight-lifting and cardio workouts next week, and they won’t practice in pads until at least Nov. 17. That means they’ll have tons of time to review their trouncing of Penn Wood.

By the time senior linebacker Chris Gambone jumped a first-quarter slant route and returned it 41 yards for a score, Upper Darby led, 13-0, only seven minutes into the game. From there, the Royals only built upon that lead.

“We work hard, no matter what,’ said Gambone. “So what that we didn’t make the playoffs, you know? This was the playoffs tonight — Round 1. And Thanksgiving is our championship.’

“It kind of sucks, knowing that we’re better than our record shows,’ said Divos, who said he’s got scholarship offers from Iowa, Northern Illinois and FCS team Illinois State, as well as interest from Temple. “We were up in some games, and one or two plays took a game from a win to a loss. Some things didn’t fall our way, but you can’t dwell on that. You have to play the team you’ve got next, and not take anything for granted.’

The opening 24 minutes were muddled with mistakes for Penn Wood (0-11).

The Patriots largest gain, a 35-yard connection between tight end Daniel Allen and quarterback Javon Terrell, was reversed due to an unsportsmanlike conduct flag after the play had been whistled dead. On successive two second-quarter kickoffs, their return team fumbled the ball backward and into the end zone for a safety and then just fumbled it over to the Royals altogether.

In all, Penn Wood committed 10 penalties for 95 yards, to go with two turnovers.

Nick Lincoln’s first season as Penn Wood’s coach ended the way it began — with a loss. If anything, Lincoln can take comfort in knowing he will retain every member of his offensive and defensive lines for next season, and that the school’s junior-varsity program went unbeaten this season.

“We’re just such a young team,’ said running back Tayvon Ruley, who logged 83 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries. “Coach is such a good motivator. Next year, we’ll be coming back more experienced and stronger for him.’

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