Walsh, Hatboro-Horsham top Upper Moreland for first win

UPPER MORELAND >> Rivalry games have a way of bringing out the unexpected.

Thursday night, Hatboro-Horsham travelled to Upper Moreland fresh off a beatdown by Lansdale Catholic. The Golden Bears were off to a perfect start and boasting big plays on offense.

Halfway through the game, everything was turned on its head.

Bob Raines--Montgomery Media Hatboro Horsham's Kingsley Nworu topples into the endzone after an Upper Moreland hit Sept. 24, 2015.
Hatboro-Horsham’s Kingsley Nworu topples into the endzone after an Upper Moreland hit during their game on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

Despite Upper Moreland’s best efforts after halftime, the Hatters made the plays they needed to in order to go home 20-13 winners. Spurred by senior quarterback Casey Walsh and senior center/defensive tackle Phil Pagliaro, Hatboro-Horsham slid into the win column for the first time in 2015.

“It had to be the o-line really getting the run blocking,” Walsh said. “Our run game was crucial to that victory and the play-action passing came after that. But it was all on the o-line.”

The Bears (3-1, 0-1 SOL American) could point to plenty of things that held them back in a sloppy first half. Still, they had two chances to try and tie the game in the fourth quarter.

“Not to be cliche but most football games come down to two things, blocking and tackling,” Bears coach Adam Beach said. “We didn’t block very well tonight and we sure didn’t tackle very well tonight. If you don’t do those two things, coupled with a bunch of penalties, you’re going to have a hard time winning any football game.”

Upper Moreland’s explosive playmaker Rodney Morgan spent most of the first quarter on the Bears sideline. Beach said Morgan had a minor ankle injury and wasn’t a full go in practice, so he wanted to give the guys who were out there a shot. His team’s offense struggled without him as the Hatters keyed on the runs up the middle without Morgan there to break one outside.

Hatboro-Horsham (1-3, 1-0) moved the ball well on its first possession but came away with nothing when UM blocked a 33-yard field goal try. It wasn’t much of a bother, as the Hatters got a stop and went right back down the field.

Walsh keyed the drive, completing three passes, all to Calvin Broaddus, including an 11-yard hit for a touchdown with 22.3 left in the frame. The drive ate up nearly 4:30 of clock and was a preview of what Walsh would provide in the first half.

Walsh did well finding his playmakers in Broaddus and Kinglsey Nworu.
“I know who to look to, what to look for and I know my guys are going to make plays and get it going,” Walsh said.

Morgan made his first appearance on the next snap, taking his first tote for 15 yards, but the Hatters did well containing the shifty back. Hatboro-Horsham forced a second quarter fumble from Morgan and recovered it and also managed to drop the runner for a 13-yard loss as he was trying to find room to run.

The lost fumble followed the Hatters’ first TD, though neither team could do much, trading punts on the next two drives. Hatboro-Horsham’s second possession of the second quarter was money however, thanks to its quarterback.

“The experience factor is really important and also, he’s a kid who has poise,” Hatters coach Mike Kapusta said. “When the bullets are flying over his head, he can make good decisions and that’s crucial.”

Bob Raines--Montgomery Media Upper Moreland's Rodney Morgan tries to escape Hatboro Horsham defense on a blown play Sept. 24, 2015.
Upper Moreland’s Rodney Morgan tries to escape Hatboro-Horsham defense on a blown play during their game on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

Walsh finished with 55 yards rushing and 154 yards passing with three total touchdowns.
Backed up into a 3rd-and-20, Walsh hung in and found Nworu over the middle and the senior took the ball for a 29-yard gain to move the chains to the Upper Moreland six. Broaddus picked up four and Walsh capped it with a two-yard draw to extend the lead to 13-0 with 5:22 left in the half.

The Hatters’ defense, thanks to the 13-yard loss, forced a three-and-out then got a 29-yard run from Adam Suder on first down to flip the field. Two incompletions had Walsh in a 3rd-and-10 when he took off, spun off a would-be tackler and ran for a 40-yard score and a 20-0 lead.

“It’s a crosstown rival so I think that gives a little added motivation,” Kapusta said. “It would have been easy for our kids to pack it in after 0-3 but our kids and this group are resilient and I’m very proud of their effort.”

The Bears finally had a response. After Morgan picked up 26 yards on three carries, Casey Decker hit Ryan Norton for 35 yards to the nine before Morgan went the rest of the way to cut the lead to 20-6 at the half.

UM recovered a fumbled kick by the Hatters following their TD, but couldn’t do anything with it when a runner ducked out two yards short of the marker on fourth down.

Bob Raines--Montgomery Media Hatboro Horsham's Phil Pagliaro chases down Upper Moreland's Nick DeLucas Sept. 24, 2015.
Hatboro-Horsham’s Phil Pagliaro chases down Upper Moreland’s Nick DeLucas during their game on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

“Everyone made mistakes tonight,” Beach said. “To point out one play or one mistake, I think everyone had a hand in this.”

Aside from Walsh, Broaddus and Nworu, the Hatters got a lift from Pagliaro, who had two sacks to go with his strong blocking.

“He’s just an awesome football player,” Kapusta said. “An all-around football player. He can play any position on either side of the ball on the line and he really had a big game for us.”

The Hatters started the second half with a long drive to the Bears’ 20 when Morgan made a key play. The UM senior was able to wrestle the ball away from Broaddus for an interception, setting his team back down the field.

Morgan, who finished with 133 yards rushing, and Decker powered a 93-yard touchdown drive capped by a two-yard Decker score to make it 20-13 with 1:05 left in the third quarter. Decker had the drive’s key play, finding Nick DeLucas for 16 yards on a 3rd-and-8.

Hatboro-Horsham came back with another long drive, but the Bears got a stop on fourth down to turn the ball over. They got all the way down to the Hatters’ 23, but turned the ball back over on downs themselves.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Bears had one last chance, getting good field position at the Hatter 40 and moving to the 14 before again turning it over on downs.

Top Photo: Hatboro-Horsham quarterback Casey Walsh scampers on a keeper against Upper Moreland during their game on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.

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