Springfield takes the Long way home

GLENOLDEN >> The timeout gave Kyle Long time to think about what he’d do differently if given the chance.
The Springfield sophomore got taken down on a perfect form tackle by Interboro safety Connor Adams on a third-and-short dumpoff pass, leading the Cougars into a fourth-and-3 on their 20-yard line with the game on the line.

Fortunately for Long, though, he got another crack at it. With Temple-bound tight end Dan Archibong drawing a lot of Interboro attention on the left side, Long flared out to the right side and found himself in a one-on-one matchup. Quarterback Brandon DiChiacchio lofted a pass over an outstretched Interboro arm and into Long’s arms. He made one lethal right-to-left cut and zipped 80 yards for the game-winning touchdown in a 14-9 Springfield win.

“I was a checkdown and we had trips on the left side with Arch over there, so they shifted to that side and the safety had me,” Long said. “The play before, he tackled me, and I knew he wasn’t going to get me twice. I went out, cut back in and I was off to the races after that.”

Springfield's Kyle Long, center, celebrates with Jeremy Hudak, left, and Brett Sheeran after his game-winning touchdown. (Times Staff/Robert J. Gurecki)
Springfield’s Kyle Long, center, celebrates with Jeremy Hudak, left, and Brett Sheeran after his game-winning touchdown. (Times Staff/Robert J. Gurecki)

Springfield’s offense, dormant for three quarters, sprung to life thanks to Long’s speed. Interboro did a phenomenal job of cutting off gaps, but eventually, the Cougars increased their tempo and kept the Bucs on their toes. Interboro built a 9-0 lead on a 23-yard first-half touchdown connection from Danny Mea to Matt DiSands and a 20-yard field goal from Colin Ravert. After that, Long took over.

He snared the ensuing kickoff out of midair on a return right and scooted up the sideline before making a lethal cut to free himself. Less than 10 seconds later, he and the Cougars were celebrating in the end zone with a new outlook.

“We had a return right and I knew that Brett Sheeran would throw a great block,” Long said. “Once I got through the first layer, it was just open field. I saw two guys coming and I cut it back and ended up getting in the end zone.”

That gave Springfield (1-0) its first lead of the game with 1:33, and while DiSands hauled in a 20-yard pass from wide receiver Nate Murtha on a trick play, that’s as close as the Bucs (0-1) got. Interboro fumbled on a double reverse pass attempt on second down, and two plays later, Archibong collapsed the pocket from his right defensive end spot and sacked Mea to cement the Cougars’ win.

“(Interboro’s offensive formation) wasn’t tight with no tight end on the line and only tackles on the edge,” Archibong said. “I knew it was going to be a pass. Obviously, with it being fourth and long, and they needed a touchdown, it’s obviously going to be pass. I just had to get a pass rush in there and sack the quarterback.”

Long finished with 15 carries for 76 yards, two catches for 78 yards and the 92-yard kickoff run. His backfield running mate, Joe Davis, scampered for 29 yards and Sheeran collected three catches for 33 yards.

For Interboro, the loss was a painful reminder of some of the losses that happened last year. Despite 93 rushing yards on 19 carries from Chris Thomas and 88 yards on six touches from Chris Hummel, the Bucs couldn’t power through to put more points on the board.

“They were giving us the same looks,” Thomas said. “We had a lot of holes on the outside and we just didn’t get it done. We’ve just got to work harder than we did. We’ve been working with January for this game and now we lost. We’ve just got to work 10 times harder than we did.”

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