Seniors help ANC close season in style

BRYN ATHYN >> A win is always welcomed by any team that can get one, but sometimes, the timing and circumstances of a specific win are a little more meaningful than others.

Case in point was Saturday afternoon’s victory for The Academy of the New Church football team. Beset by injuries and bad luck all season, but especially the last few weeks, the Lions were waiting for something to break their way.

Thanks to a couple of special seniors, a fierce defense and a needed performance by their quarterback, the Lions got those breaks as they pounded The Pennington School 28-6 in their season finale.

“We needed it more than you can imagine actually,” ANC coach Ty Klippenstein said. “We’ve a had a tough couple of weeks. We lost our starting quarterback to a tough injury a couple weeks ago. We had to have Matt (McCabe) step in, he’s been getting better every week and this was by far his best game.”

A season after going 9-0, the Lions knew replicating that task would be tough but they also didn’t foresee a 3-5 record. Still, with a shot to pick up that third win going into their finale, there was a certain added motivation for ANC.

However, they found themselves down early after Pennington’s tough tailback Nyshear Woodson scored a five-yard touchdown on the team’s second drive. A fumbled snap gave the ball right back to Pennington, but ANC’s defense made the first of several huge stops against the Red Raiders and got the ball back.

Mixing things up between runs and passes, plus spreading the ball around, ANC moved down the field early in the second quarter. McCabe, a junior pressed into service when starter Charlie Coyle was lost for the year against New Hope-Solebury, went 5-for-5 on the drive, his last an 18-yard touchdown to senior Cameron Tealer. Tealer caught a short pass, made a really nice move to shake a defender, then bulldozed his way in with another man draped all over him.

“Everyone knew it was the seniors’ last game at home,” senior tailback Anthony Weizer said. “They wanted to win it for us.

“(Tealer) had a huge game, Matt had a great game coming in and Cam had some huge catches that got us ahead and gave us momentum.”

Weizer, ANC’s workhorse runner all season, had a tremendous performance to close out his high school career. He ran for 195 yards and two second half touchdowns on 28 carries while playing on defense as well.

After Tealer’s score tied it at 6-6, the teams traded turnovers with Pennington fumbling a short kick and McCabe throwing an interception. In one of those odd moments, McCabe, who wears No. 11, was picked by Hunter Meyer-Hanover, who also wears No. 11 at the Pennington 11-yard line.

The defense forced a big three-and-out with 20 seconds left, giving the offense a chance taking over at its own 41. After Tealer ran for 13 yards and got out of bounds, McCabe hit Kameron Kitrells for 33 yards and got a timeout with just one second left. The next play, McCabe found Tealer, who made a magnificent leaping grab for a 13-yard TD and a 12-6 halftime lead.

“I really can’t say enough about those guys,” Klippenstein said. “Those two guys in particular, Ant and Cam, they’re the consummate character guys. They’re the guys every single football team would want. They’re talented and they do exactly what the coaches want and they do it with fastidiousness, they hustle. This program owes them, honestly.”

Weizer said it felt great to have such a great team performance in his final high school game and it was extra special for Tealer and himself, because both were at ANC since they were freshmen.

The Lions looked like they were going to score again right out of the half, but another fumbled snap on third down from the Raiders 16 turned the ball over. It was no big matter as the defense against stood up and forced a punt.
McCabe, who went 9-for-12 for 91 yards, two TDs and a pick in the first half, wouldn’t throw another pass. It didn’t matter however, because ANC had Weizer.

After the punt, the senior ran for 50 of 57 yards on a touchdown drive, the final 37 coming on one, as Klippenstein described it, “beastly” run for a score.

“We had the momentum coming out of the half,” Weizer said. “I knew I had to give all I had. It was my last two quarters.”

If his first score didn’t ice the game, then his second one certainly did. Facing a 4th-and-1 on the Pennington 34, Weizer looked like he was going to be dropped for a loss, but all of a sudden he was breaking through the line and off for a 31-yard run, with Meyer-Hanover stopping him from scoring. A play later, Weizer got the last three yards for the final touchdown of his career with 2:42 to go.

“I don’t even know what happened,” Weizer said. “I got loose, broke a tackle. I thought I was in, but that guy caught up to me.”

ANC has a small roster, so almost every player is counted upon in some capacity. It means the Lions don’t often have huge senior classes, but the fourth-year players are also the ones who make most everything go. Aside from Coyle, Weizer and Tealer, the Lions also lose Quadier Phillips, out injured, and Kyle Cole, who helped open plenty of running lanes for Weizer as part of the offensive line.

“I’m going to remember these seniors the most,” Klippenstein said. “Tealer scoring the touchdowns, Ant running the ball they way he did and Kyle Cole, who’s one of our linemen, opening those holes up. That’s going to stick in my memory for a long time I suspect, and I have a pretty good memory.”

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