Upper Dublin uses defense to get by Hatboro-Horsham

UPPER DUBLIN >> Seniors often shine on Senior Night and for Upper Dublin, that was exactly the case for Jack Rapine.

The senior tight end/defensive end had a monster effort Friday as he and his defensive teammates carried the day. With five grabs for 72 yards on offense, Rapine made his mark on both sides, but it was his defense that hit hardest.

“That’s just Jack,” veteran Upper Dublin coach Bret Stover said. “That’s the way he’s been all year and just what he’s done all year.”

Upper Dublin has gained plenty of notoriety for its high-power offense, but the Cardinals’ defense is plenty good in its own right. Sure, it takes the offense scoring points to get all these wins, but not letting the other guys put anything on the board is just as key.

Friday night, the Cardinals’s defense paved the way for the offense in a 31-10 win over visiting Hatboro-Horsham. The Hatters, who have been a different team since the season’s first month, played hard as usual.

“We don’t really put any stock in moral victories, we just made way too many mistakes,” Hatters coach Mike Kapusta said. “Hat’s off to Upper Dublin. They’re a very good team and well prepared.”

But mistakes on their part came back to haunt them several time in a first half owned by UD’s defensive side of the ball. The Cardinals’ size and ferocity on the d-line eventually wore out Hatboro-Horsham’s smaller offensive line, leaving Casey Walsh little time to throw and no room for backs to run through.

Left defensive end Rapine was a force in the first half, registering two tackles for loss, a sack and numerous other plays where he beat his man off the edge. He wasn’t half bad on offense either, hauling in four passes for 58 yards in the first half, including a gorgeous 27-yarder to set up a Todd Sprit 36-yard field goal.

Cardinals senior quarterback Ryan Stover was efficient, running for 56 yards and throwing for 143 with two TDs and an interception. Overall he was 13-of-23 passing and made plays when his team needed him to.

The Hatters came back with a field goal of their own to make it 3-3 after one quarter. Upper Dublin capped a long drive with a 12 yard TD pass from Ryan Stover to Michael Sowers on the first play of the second quarter to start wresting control away.

“We had a little adversity tonight, which was good,” Stover said. “We haven’t had a whole lot of that this year so it was actually good to work our way through that.”

On the resultant Hatters drive, Walsh could only watch as a pass was batted by a Cardinal lineman and fell into the arms of standout linebacker Henry Winebrake. Winebrake returned the ball to the Hatter seven where Kalief Lee punched it in the next play.

Now down 17-3, the Hatters looked to have something going on their next drive until a flag backed them up to their own 49. Then Rapine took over.

The senior captain blew up Jordan Mason on a run for a seven yard loss and after a short screen pass, sacked Walsh for another seven yard loss. He also caught a five-yard pass on the following drive.

That drive was keyed by two 14-yard grabs by Cole Swiger and capped by a 1-yard Lee run. Upper Dublin took a 24-3 lead into the half.

The teams traded punts to open the second half and things kept going that way in the third quarter with both offenses bogging down.

“I think we stopped the run pretty well, which is very important,” Kapusta said. “We had a chance to make some plays with the ball in the air where we didn’t, but otherwise I thought we played very well in coverage. The kids were prepared and they definitely flew around and made plays. The defensive effort was pretty good but a quarterback as good as Stover is, he’s going to make plays on you and when the ball is in the, we’ve just got to make those plays.”

Hatboro-Horsham, sensing it needed to do something to make a run, went for it on fourth down early in the fourth quarter and came up short. The result put the ball at the Hatters’ 17 and after a five-yard run by Stover, he hit James Lampmann for a 12-yard TD to make it 31-3 with 8:36 left.

The Hatters weren’t done yet and had one last run in them. A nice drive orchestrated by Walsh’s arm and Robert Fitzgerald’s running led to a short TD pass from Walsh to Kingsley Nworu.

“Mike does a nice job over there and they’re playing well,” Stover said. “He’s starting to turn the the program around and it’s nice to see and we prepared for them.”

The Hatters kicked and recovered an onside kick but couldn’t make anything of it and the Cards ran out the clock to go to 9-0.

Upper Dublin, currently ranked 4th in the District I power rankings, closes at Upper Merion next week. The Hatters also conclude league play next week, and have added Owen J. Roberts on the road as a Week 11 foe, so Kapusta wants his team to continue playing hard and end the season a good note.

“We want to get a home game or two here and we need to get Upper Merion for that to happen,” Stover said. “We can’t look past this team and Upper Merion took Upper Moreland to overtime and we don’t want to be in that kind of a fight.”

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