West Catholic stops Lansdale Catholic cold

Mark C Psoras--The Reporter West Catholic's Sharif Fennell Jr. ,7, cuts through Lansdale Catholic defenders for a big gain.
Mark C Psoras–The Reporter
West Catholic’s Sharif Fennell Jr. ,7, cuts through Lansdale Catholic defenders for a big gain.

AMBLER >> Lansdale Catholic played inspired defense, scoring a safety and forcing three West Catholic turnovers, and got an 82-yard punt from versatile Marlen Fenstermacher, but just couldn’t produce enough offense on a cold, blustery, rainy afternoon at Wissahickon High School.
“You’re not gonna win any games not scoring any offensive touchdowns, and that’s kind of where we’ve been the last couple weeks,” Crusaders coach Tom Kirk said. “Hats off to our defense. I think they’re playing terrific, but the offense isn’t pulling its fair share.”
LC lost its second in a row, falling 18-2 to the Burrs in a Philadelphia Catholic League, Class AA contest on Saturday.
“At certain times, we felt the momentum, but at other times we just couldn’t capitalize on big plays,” Fenstermacher said. “We came up a few yards short and you can’t do that.”
Fenstermacher carried the ball 23 times for the Crusaders, gaining 77 yards against the Burrs (2-3) in the PCL opener for both squads. Without injured star Ryan Quigley, Fenstermacher and Jake Dohoney (12 carries, 67 yards) combined their efforts on LC’s first possession of the game, which reached the West Catholic 34, but as a telling sign of things to come, the Crusaders were stopped on fourth down and turned the ball over on downs.

Mark C Psoras--The Reporter West Catholic quarterback Niles Brown (8) escapes the clutches of Lansdale Catholic defender...
Mark C Psoras–The Reporter
West Catholic quarterback Niles Brown (8) escapes the clutches of Lansdale Catholic defender…

The Crusaders (3-2) drove to the Burr 30-yard line on their next series, but again were stopped on fourth down.
“(Today), we were short by a yard or short by a couple of feet, and that’s just what you can’t do, not against a team like West Catholic,” Kirk said. “You can’t come out here and just think that you’re gonna be able to get first downs and touchdowns. Every single yard, you have to earn.”
West Catholic was able to finish its first possession with a touchdown. A seven-play, 68-yard drive was capped off when Ociele Miller got the handoff, bounced it out to the right, and then raced to the corner to put the Burrs out in front, 6-0.
An offensive line that included senior 6-foot-3, 330-pound Charles Trabi kept prying open running lanes for a variety of West Catholic backs, and Calil Wortham would lead all of them with 121 yards.
But when the Burrs had a 4th-and-goal at the seven midway through the second quarter, the LC defense came up with the stop as a fade to the corner — with Stephen Petrusky in coverage — fell incomplete.
The Crusaders were forced to go three-and-out on the ensuing possession. On 4th-and-2 at the LC 16, Fenstermacher uncorked a punt that sailed to about the West Catholic 35, and then bounced, bounced, bounced, rolling all the way to the Burr two.
“The wind just took it,” Fenstermacher said.
“We knew the wind would be a factor today,” Kirk said. “I’d be lying if I said it would be that much of a factor.”
The play ultimately set up a safety for the Crusaders, as the Burrs were called for holding on third down, as quarterback Josh Evans was throwing out of the end zone, making it a 6-2 contest.
Telling of the miscues by both teams on a sloppy, wet day on the turf, LC would fumble away the ensuing free kick.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, the Burrs converted twice on third down and used a 44-yard touchdown run by Wortham to extend their lead to 12-2.
“On a day like this, it’s all about field position,” Kirk said. “And in the third quarter, we had a chance to hold them on 3rd-and-long and gave up field position.”
LC recovered three West Catholic fumbles in the second half to provide hope, but with the offense gaining just four first downs after the break, Wortham’s second touchdown — a 36-yarder — iced the game for the Burrs with 4:19 left to play.

Follow Kev Hunter on Twitter @khunter10

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