Morgan rushes Upper Moreland into District 1-AAA final

UPPER MORELAND >> With three minutes left in his team’s season, Upper Moreland superstar running back Rodney Morgan decided it was again his time to shine.

“It all came down to making one play,” the 2,000-yard back said. “If we made one play we were back in the game.”

That one play was a 53-yard touchdown, which vaulted Upper Moreland from down 20-14 to up 21-20 and through to the District 1-AAA final next week.

“That was the highlight of the night,” Morgan said. “But I can’t just say it was me. It was the O-line and everybody had a good push…running behind them is great. They give me the best holes I can ask for.”

The final result, after another Morgan touchdown a minute and a half later, was a 28-20 semifinal victory for the Golden Bears over Marple Newtown.

“We were running off-tackle a lot all day,” Upper Moreland head coach Adam Beach said. “(Marple Newtown) started to pinch a little bit so we thought we could get the edge.

“Rodney did a great job of reading his blocks, he got the edge, he put his foot in the ground, he went north-south, and the rest is history.”

The senior running back, who increased his season’s rushing total to 2,348 yards on the night, ended the game with 267 yards on 34 carries and three touchdowns. He added 22 yards receiving and a touchdown there as well.

The win did not come without adversity for Upper Moreland. Four fumbles were the main reason the Bears saw themselves down a point with only three minutes to play. That included a fourth quarter giveaway and a lost fumble on the Marple 1-yard line.

“It’s playoff football. This is how playoff games are — they get tight and the team that makes the least amount of mistakes wins,” Beach said. “We made some mistakes tonight, we had some turnovers but then they helped us out.”

The Tigers had three turnovers of their own in the game.

“One of the things we talk about in Upper Moreland football is our kids never quit,” Beach said. “We always want to go out and we always want to play 48 minutes of football.”

Upper Moreland could not have asked for a better start to the game. Marple Newtown fumbled the opening kickoff and the Bears recovered, giving them the ball at the Tiger 24. It took senior running back Morgan exactly one play to cash in his team’s opportunity and Upper Moreland was up 7-0 14 seconds into the game.

It was a fumble from the Golden Bears, however, that turned the tide of the first half. After forcing a three-and-out, Upper Moreland was again moving down the field with ease before Morgan lost the ball at the Marple Newtown 20-yardline.

On the ensuing possession, Tiger quarterback Anthony Paoletti hit Cameron Mathes for 59 yards and Marple was on the board with a 27-yard George Lambritsios field goal to make the score 7-3.

After an Upper Moreland three-and-out, Marple Newtown hit another big play, as Carmen Christiana took the Golden Bear punt and returned it 47 yards for the first Tiger touchdown. In the blink of an eye, Marple had a 10-7 lead.

The Tiger momentum only continued from there, as Paoletti hit senior running back Abel Hoff in stride for a 53-yard strike to end the first quarter. On the second play of the second quarter, the sophomore quarterback found Marcus Weathers in the corner of the end zone from seven yards out, giving Marple Newtown a 17-7 advantage.

The next possession was critical for Upper Moreland to stay in the game, and the Bears made it count. The sixth play of the drive was a fake-punt-run on 4th and 4, which gained about four yards and an inch. Upper Moreland went for it again on fourth down four plays later, and Morgan gained three yards on a 4th-and-2.

On the 16th play of the drive, quarterback Casey Decker executed a throwback screen to his star running back perfectly, and Morgan took it in from 20 yards out to get Upper Moreland within 17-14.

Paoletti, who was impressive the entire opening half, marched his team 63 yards in 2:55  to get his team a field goal at the end of the half, making the score 20-14 Marple Newtown.

Paoletti ended the game 15-of-23 for 225 yards passing to go with a touchdown and two interceptions. Hoff finished with seven catches for 113 yards.

Both of Paoletti’s interceptions fell into the hands of Nick Pagano. His second pick, which came with less than a minute to go, all but ended the game.

This is the third district championship appearance for Upper Moreland, all of which have come under Beach. It’s the Bears’ first trip since 2008 – they have never come home with a trophy.

“It’s a district championship,” Beach said. “Both teams are gonna be good, both teams are gonna be well-coached. It’s gonna be another great high school football game.”

The Golden Bears face top-seeded Academy Park at Plymouth Whitemarsh Friday night.

“I wish we could fast forward to next Friday but we can’t. We’re gonna go home and enjoy this.”


Upper Moreland7701428
Marple Newtown10100020

Upper Moreland

Player Comp Att Pass Yds Pass TD Int. Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec. TD Sacks Def. Int XPM XPA FGM FGA
Casey Decker484810690000000000
Rodney Morgan000003426732221000000
Nick Pagano000003100190020000
Nick DeLucas000001101170000000
Ryan Norton00000000000100000

Marple Newtown

Player Comp Att Pass Yds Pass TD Int. Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec. TD Sacks Def. Int XPM XPA FGM FGA
Anthony Paoletti1523225128-240000000000
Abel Hoff0000000081130000000
Marlon Weathers0000014520000000000
Marcus Weathers000001203231000000
Cameron Mathes000000001590000000
Chris Rufo000000002270000000
Tyler Kostack00000000130000000
George Lambritsios00000000000002222
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply