O’Hara fades again in red zone, loses to Ryan

MARPLE TWP. >> Cardinal O’Hara’s football team has some talent, a ton of heart and a will to win. But Friday night’s 26-13 loss to visiting Archbishop Ryan was another example of what has been a problem for the Lions all season — their inability to finish drives.

Led by quarterback Tommy O’Hara, the Lions moved the ball up and down the field all night, but could only post a touchdown in their second drive of the game. O’Hara (1-7, 0-3) did not cross the goal line again until the 5:54 mark of the fourth quarter, the game being out of reach by then.

“(Ryan) did a great job with their red zone defense,” O’Hara head coach B.J. Hogan said. “I’m sure we were like, 1-for-6 in the red zone. When it was crunch time, they were making the plays.”

O’Hara finished the game 17 of 30 for 141 yards and an interception. The junior also rushed 25 times for 51 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run.

For any player at any level, 42 touches is a lot of touches. Too many touches?

“Tommy’s one of our best players this year,” Hogan said. “It’s late in the season, so I said we’re going to ride his back. We ran a ton of quarterback draws and some pass-run options. He did a lot of good things tonight.”

Hogan took the blame for his team’s lack of scoring. In their seven losses this year, the Lions have averaged less than 10 points per game.

“We have to get better offensively and that’s on me to get the right plays called,” Hogan said. “We’ve got to finish. I’m not kicking field goals, we’ve got to score.”

The Raiders (4-3, 2-1) were led by Jaye McNeil (26 rushes for 207 yards and two touchdowns). Ryan quarterback Matt Romano added 76 yards on eight carries and a touchdown.

Even when drive after drive stalled and the Raiders started to pull away in the second half, Hogan’s team never quit.

“That’s what we’re preaching,” Hogan said. “That’s a credit to the older kids and a credit to our team. They’ve got to fight back and we’re not going to let them sit there and fold the season. We are getting better. But at some point someone has to step up and make a play to win a football game.”

One of the players to look at is two-way lineman Anthony Amoroso. The 6-0, 240-pound senior touched the ball more than the quarterback and seemed to be in on every tackle on defense.

“He plays center, he’s the long-snapper,” Hogan said. “The kid’s working his butt off. I think he played about 120 snaps tonight. He gives great effort and that’s why he’s one of the captains.”

The Lions are not eliminated. With the expanded playoff field in the Catholic League AAA division, if O’Hara knocks off rival Bonner-Prendie next week, they are right back in the postseason hunt.

“We’re still not out of the playoff picture,” Amoroso said. “If we win next week, we still have a shot. We’ve just got to keep fighting and maybe make something happen.”

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