Turnovers cost Springfield-Montco in District 1-AA final loss to New Hope-Solebury

DOYLESTOWN >> It didn’t take long.

Just one play into the game and Springfield-Montco already found itself up 7-0 in Friday’s District 1-AA championship game off of a 78 yard touchdown run from running back Ben Fisher.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, that would be the extent of their scoring in this one. Their offense shot itself in the foot all night with costly turnovers, as the fell 14-7 to New Hope-Solebury.

“At this level you can’t make mistakes like fumbles,” Springfield head coach Chris Shelly said. “We kind of let them back in the game, we feel like we had them on their heels and had a couple of opportunities inside the red zone to kind of put them on their back and we let them back in. There’s a lot of hurting kids in there and you have to give the credit to New Hope, they made the drive to win it.”

For most of the game, Springfield was having no trouble moving the ball. The Spartans finished with 288 yards on the ground lead by 161 from Fisher and 95 from quarterback Justin Hill.

Right after Fisher’s opening touchdown, Springfield forced a three-and-out from New Hope and looked poised to extend its lead. Unfortunately, the Spartans gave the ball right back just two plays later on a botched handoff which ended up being the story of their night.

Four fumbles and an interception later, the Spartans found their drives stalling when it counted most and it ended up costing them.

“We had the opportunities,” Hill said. “We were moving the ball on them but we would just get in the red zone and not score, we were turning the ball over, we were doing things that lose you games and it happened, we lost the game because we didn’t do the things that win games.”

Even with all the turnovers, Springfield had the opportunity to tie the game late.

After a one-yard Nick Garritano touchdown to put the Lions up 14-7 with just 4:21 left in the game, the Spartans drove down the field to New Hope’s 30 yard line after a couple of fantastic runs by Hill.

But just like they did for the majority of the game, the Spartans stalled in New Hope’s zone and the comeback effort was fought off as the clock wound down to zero.

“You can see from our last drive what type of kids we have,” Shelly said. “It starts with J-Hill, he was tremendous I thought and all our seniors have given so much and we expected to win. We were coming in as underdogs but there was no way in our minds we were underdogs, we felt like we were the best team.”

For New Hope-Solebury, it relied heavily on the run game just as the Spartans did but it got the one play when they needed it most.

The Lions were led by junior Jack McKenna for most of the night. The New Hope running back finished with 129 yards on the ground and one of his team’s two touchdowns.

“Jack’s a great player,” New Hope-Solebury head coach Jim DiTulio said. “He’s a quiet guy and he gets the job done for us. I love the guy and he just gets the job done and made big plays when we needed him.”

This is a tough way for the season to end for the Spartans after winning the district crown last season. They came into this game expecting to win, and they could have if they executed better, which makes it that much more difficult to swallow.

“This is the worst feeling in the world. I’m never about to play football again in my life.” Hill said. “It’s by choice, I want to go other ways but it’s something I’ve been doing for more of my life than anything else. I’ve been playing football since I was seven years old.”

But for Shelly, he made sure his kids would leave holding their held high and told them just how proud he was of them after the long, hard season.

“I just told them how proud I am of them,” Shelly said. “We were fortunate enough to experience that last year where we won it at Bristol but we expect to be in this position every year and competing for these championships. I just told the seniors how much I love them and how much this meant to me personally.”

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