Cheltenham survives scare from Bishop McDevitt

CHELTENHAM >> It would be safe to say Bishop McDevitt was heavy underdogs against Cheltenham Friday night as the Lancers made the three quarters of mile trip up Rices Mill Road to take on the Panthers.
McDevitt gave Cheltenham all it could handle and stayed in the game before eventually conceding to the Panthers, 19-12.
“They’re an AAAA, we’re an A but I thought we were good enough to win it,” McDevitt coach Pat Manzi said. “(I thought we let it get away) but you have to give them credit they executed.”
Despite some of the miscues and inefficiencies in the McDevitt offense it still had a chance to tie or win the game in the fourth quarter. With just over seven minutes remaining the Lancers faced a fourth-and-seven from the Panther’s 19-yard line. Bryson threw to the end zone for Jaron Macon who secured the catch but was unable to keep his feet in bounds, turning the ball over on down and giving possession back to Panthers as they ran the rest of the clock out.
“I thought we played hard,” Manzi said. “We had some chances too. Even at the end we drove down and stalled. We thought we scored (on fourth down). I’ll have to wait until film maybe he was out but I thought he was in but that’s neither here nor there.”
Cheltenham was never able to establish great rhythm on offense but it got the consistency and the big play ability from running back Yasin Abdul-Haqq.
On Cheltenham’s first offensive play of the game Abdul-Haqq darted for 70 yards down the far sideline before getting pushed out of bounds at the Lancers’ 13 yard line. The Panthers cashed in on the next play as quarterback Branden Mack hit Akeem Browne for an 18-yard (a false start penalty moved the ball back five yards) touchdown.
“Mainly I was just focusing on holding on the ball,” the junior who finished with 145 yards rushing and two touchdowns said. “I was just looking for everything that I could.”
After the Browne touchdown McDevitt responded with a seven play, 68-yard scoring drive of its own as Max Bryson found Dontae Mason for a 35-yard score.
The Lancers also struggled to move the ball consistently on offense and the offense got a nice shot in the arm from running back Vince Dileo who averaged six yards per carry but at times the McDevitt offense got away from feeding him.
“(We did get away from him) at times,” Manzi said. “We’re trying to still mix it up because at times at the end they did crowd the line of scrimmage.”
Although the Panthers survived a major scare from the Lancers due much in part to missed opportunities and self inflicted mistakes coach Joe Gro understands the importance of his team getting the win column especially after a tough loss in their season opener to CB East the week prior.
“Winning is always good. We really needed that,” Gro said. “It was a really good football game and we were lucky enough to win it.”

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