Shanahan beats Avon Grove; awaits playoff fate

LONDON GROVE >> Bishop Shanahan’s postseason chances were very slim heading into its regular season football finale at Avon Grove. But that didn’t stop head coach Paul Meyers from using the situation to get his team properly motivated.
The Eagles did their part, scoring the final two touchdowns in a convincing 31-14 Senior Night triumph over the host Red Devils in Ches-Mont National action. But the squad’s hopes were dashed, when Springfield (Delco) pummeled Penncrest, 34-7, to earn the final spot in the District 1 playoffs.
“We had an outside shot at the playoffs, so that was the motivation all week,” Meyers confirmed.
“I put everything on our seniors heading into this one. I said, ‘no matter what happens, we have to come out and win this game.’ And we did. It’s just the character of our kids.”
Senior Jake Guinan heeded the challenge and responded with 181 rushing yards and a pair of TDs, on runs of 33- and 68-yards.
“I called Jake out before the game,” Meyers added. “I told him he is going to have to run the ball, but we knew he could.”
The win ups Shanahan’s record to 5-5 overall (3-3 in the Ches-Mont) and halted a two-game losing skid. The loss drops Avon Grove to 4-6 overall (1-5 in the league), but with one more regular season game remaining (at Chichester), the Red Devils have already turned a corner. They entered the 2015 season with a 20-game losing skid.
“It’s not a record we are happy with, but we’ve taken a step forward,” said first-year head coach Harry O’Neill. “We have four wins, and hopefully number five next week, and we hadn’t won five games from 2010-2014 combined.”
With the 5-foot-9, 163-pound Guinan leading the way, the Eagles never allowed the Devils to gather any momentum because they immediately followed both of Avon Grove’s scores with a touchdown of their own.
“That was the difference in the game. It’s a sign of a good team,” Myers said.
“We all knew that this could be our last game so we came out strong and wanted to end on a win,” Guinan. “It was a great way to finish off our regular season.”
The Devils sliced a 10-point halftime deficit to 17-14 when runner Nate Jones capped off a scoring drive with a 29-yard run. But on the very next play from scrimmage, Guinan went 68 yards into the end zone on a sweep to bump the margin back to 10.
Bishop Shanahan then put it away early in the fourth quarter with a 64-yard march that ended with 6-4, 265-pound lineman-turned-fullback Doug Costin rumbling in from the two. It was Costin’s second TD of the season.
“It’s hard to stop (Costin) from getting a couple yards,” Meyers said.
An interception by the Eagles Steve Sweeney thwarted Avon Grove’s final comeback bid.
“We want to send our seniors out the right way (against Chichester) because they have helped us turn things around,” O’Neill said. “Four and six isn’t great, but it’s not 0-10. I’m not big on moral victories but we played hard and that’s all I ask them to do. Shanahan is a good football team.”
The Devils went 57-yards in 10-plays on the opening drive of the game, which culminated with a 9-yard scoring toss from quarterback Shane McLaughlin to wideout Henry Buchanan. But the early lead was fleeting as the Eagles came right back to tie it with a quick-strike 61-yard toss from Nick Skulski to Brendan Dearing.
Shanahan captured the lead early in the second period on a run covering 33 yards by Guinan, which was the exact same sweep play that he scored on later.
“They ran the same exactly play both times, caught us in the same blitz both times,” O’Neill said.
Eagles’ linebacker Dominic Fusco then set up a late 35-yard field goal by John George when he intercepted a McLaughlin pass in the final half minute of the first half at the Avon Grove 30.
“I got greedy,” O’Neill admitted. “Luckily the defense held them to three point, but that’s on me.”
In all, Shanahan had a 324-254 yard edge in total offense. Plus, the Eagles did not turn the ball over a single time and were whistled for just three penalties.

Bishop Shanahan 31, Avon Grove 14
Bishop Shanahan    7    10    7    7    —    31
Avon Grove    7    0    7    0    —    14
AG — Buchanan 9 pass from McLaughlin (Sheehan kick)
BS — Dearing 61 pass from Skulski (George kick)
BS — Guinan 33 run (George kick)
BS — George FG 35)
AG — Jones 29 run (Sheehan kick)
BS — Guinan 68 run (George kick)
BS — Costin 2 run (George kick)
    BS    AG
First downs    13    13
Rushes-yards    29-233    40-201
Passing    6-11-1-0    5-12-1-2
Passing yards    91    53
Total yards    324    254
Punts    3-39    2-38.5
Fumbles-lost    0-0    2-0
Penalties-yards    3-22    4-25

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