Frempong takes Chichester to the house

LOWER MERION >> Chichester’s offense wasn’t built to go 95 yards in 3 minutes, 18 seconds. Nobody bothered telling Clarence Bowens and Martin Frempong that, however.

Bowens hit Frempong for a 67-yard touchdown with 53 seconds left in Chichester’s dramatic 21-20 victory over Lower Merion in the season opener Friday at Harriton High School. The Eagles were without a point in the second half until that thrilling conclusion.

“Quarterback did all the work,” Frempong said. “All I did was run after the catch.”

The call was a slant-and-go. Frempong got the defensive back to bite, then raced past him after he slipped. The safety help over the top was slow to be in position, and Frempong kept on racing. He ran about 55 of the 67 yards with the ball, right up the seam.

Bowens never lost confidence, never lost doubt, despite what was in front of him. Once he saw Frempong get daylight, he knew the Eagles had six.

“When I saw him fall, I knew it was over,” Bowens said. “He turned his jets on, and he was (gone).”

It was only Frempong’s third catch of the game (for 71 yards) and Bowens’ sixth completion (for 141 yards). For a ground-and-pound offense, being down six points with one possession left and the entire football field to go is a tall, tall order. Eagles coach Ryan Smith wasn’t pleased his team was in that position to begin with.

Missed tackles, costly penalties and other mistakes hurt Chichester all game long. The fact that they had a chance at the end — and they took advantage of it — pleased him most.

“They were able to believe,” Smith said, “and get something done.”

Chichester led 14-6 at halftime before Lower Merion scored on back-to-back possessions, buoyed by an onside kick recovery, in the second half. Isaac Iglesias’ 10-yard run in the third quarter cut into the score. Brandon Jones’ 34-yard pass, on fourth down, to Rashon Cooke gave the Aces the lead with 10:06 left.

The Eagles faltered on their next drive, but managed to stop the Aces and get the ball back for one last crack at the end zone. They made it count.

“Everything,” Frempong said when asked what the win meant. “First game of the season.”

Kevin Miller’s two-yard run gave Chichester a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. He had 37 rushing yards to front his squad. Iglesias, who had 114 yards on the ground, responded midway through the second quarter with his own one-yard run to make it 7-6. Later in the half, Smith made a decision that wound up being key.

He called a timeout with four seconds left and the ball at the 39 to set up one final play before halftime. Generally, in this situation, high school coaches play it safe by letting the clock run out or by taking a knee. Smith, instead, took a crack at the end zone.

Shaquan Cobb wound up hauling in the Hail Mary — in double coverage — to give the Eagles a momentous touchdown. It certainly made a difference in the end.

“Risk and reward,” Smith said. “I thought the reward was bigger than the risk with our kids.”

Austin Wilson hit all three of his extra points, including the decisive kick. Those kicks were noteworthy. Lower Merion kicker Sophie Riverso missed her PAT in the first quarter. The Aces went 1-for-2 on their ensuing two-point conversion attempts, trying to make up the lost point.

That point, naturally, was the difference. Chichester will take it any which way it can.

“I guess that’s one way to put it,” a relieved Smith said.

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