Harriton falls to West Philadelphia, 42-14, in season opener

The Harriton football squad, opening its season at home Friday, fell victim to a West Philadelphia ground attack that rolled up more than 300 rushing yards en route to a 42-14 victory.

The Speedboys, who finished with 321 rushing yards in 45 attempts, ground their way to a 20-0 lead at halftime.

After Harriton senior receiver Czar Czworkowski made two long touchdown catches to cut West’s lead to 28-14 midway through the third period, the visitors once again started grinding out yardage on the ground, controlling the ball and the game.

West Philadelphia attempted only eight passes all day long, and rolled up 15 first downs, compared to seven for Harriton. The Speedboys controlled the ball most of the game, despite racking up 93 yards on 11 penalties. (Harriton had only one penalty, for five yards).

Harriton head coach Justin Mellor said, “Eighty percent of our guys were playing for the first time in a varsity game. We have so many young, inexperienced kids, but they really competed today and they didn’t give up, even when they fell behind.”

On the first drive of the game, West Philadelphia scored on a 70-yard touchdown drive that took only nine plays – eight of which were running plays. The drive culminated with a 30-yard run by senior running back Peter Hutton down the left sideline into the end zone.

Harriton got a break early in the second quarter when the Speedboys muffed an attempted punt, and the Rams took over at the West 37 yard line. Harriton senior quarterback Patrick Stewart, who set a single-season Central League record for passing yards last season, hit on several short passes to move the Rams down to the West 11 yard line, but the drive died outside the 10-yard line.

The Speedboys then put together an 83-yard, 15-play touchdown drive that culminated in junior running back Abdul Gary Reid Williams’ 16-yard run around left end to make it 12-0.

Four plays later, West Philadelphia got the ball back on an interception by sophomore safety Jahara Reed, then two plays after that, senior running back Tarell McLeod broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run. The conversion made it 20-0 at halftime.

The third quarter proved profitable for the Rams, as on the opening drive of the third quarter, Harriton marched 63 yards for a touchdown. On fourth-and-four at the West 33, Stewart hit senior receiver Jacob Diamond-Reivich for a four-yard gain for the first down, then two plays later Czworkowski leapt high to snare a Stewart pass on the left sideline, then ran past the West defenders for a 30-yard touchdown.

West came right back for a touchdown on a 70-yard kickoff return, but Harriton answered on the next drive for a clutch score when, on fourth down and six from the West 29 yard line, Stewart was pressured out of the pocket, scrambled to the right, and found a wide-open Czworkowski on the right side of the end zone for a touchdown with 6:49 left in the third quarter.

“Czar had a good game for us,” said Mellor of Czworkowski, who made four catches for 96 yards. “He’s got a big body (6-1, 185 pounds) and he uses his hands well to catch the ball.”

Harriton senior tight end Jake Smolenski hooked up with Stewart a number of times Friday, making six catches for 43 yards.

West Philadelphia, its lead cut to 28-14, came back with another long kickoff return, as senior back Peter Hutton carried it all the way down to the Harriton 24 yard line. Four running plays later, West junior quarterback Quayshon Glass scored on a one-yard plunge to make it 34-14.

Toward the end of the third quarter, West sophomore safety Jahara Reid made his second interception of the game and returned it to the Harriton 4 yard line. A couple of plays later, freshman back Zackariah Payton scored on 3-yard run to make it 42-14.

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