Archbishop Carroll wins Powel Bowl over Norristown

WEST NORRITON >> Undoubtedly, Joe Powel has taught his younger brother Jason a few coaching lessons over the years.

Saturday afternoon at Norristown High, he taught him another.

Joe’s Archbishop Carroll High football team bested Jason’s Norristown team, 20-7, in a matchup of brothers who were meeting for the first time as opposition football head coaches.

With Norristown in front, 7-6, early in the fourth quarter, the Patriots scored twice in a span of 5:12 to pull out the victory – and send one Powel brother home unhappy, and the other with tears in his eyes.

“They mean a lot of me, those kids,” Joe said with the hint of tears welling up in his eye after his postgame meeting with his team. “This senior group has given me everything they have, and we were happy to get a win for them.”

Powel’s Patriots did it with a strategy he’s employed before.

“We tried to eliminate their speed by running right at them,” the elder Powel said, “and our defense played well all day.”

Meanwhile, the Eagles had trouble getting out of their own way, at times.

A second-quarter drive, in which Norristown committed six penalties over a span of nine snaps, turned what could have been a first-and-goal at the Carroll 1-yard line into third-and-52 at the Eagles own 26.

“We couldn’t get a flow,” Jason said. “Our offense couldn’t get down the field.

“And Carroll played with more heart.”

The Patriots grabbed a 6-0 lead with 1:33 left in the first half when Christian Smith (23 carries, 137 yards) found the end zone from 14 yards away, capping a seven-play, 40-yard drive.

Carroll tried a trick play on the conversion attempt, but misfired, leaving the score at 6-0 at the break.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Eagles finally took the lead with 10:27 left in the game on a seam pass from quarterback Diavante Lloyd to Khalif Sinclair that covered 51 yards and gave them a 7-6 lead after Shane Hammer converted the extra point.

But the Patriots roared right back, driving 56 yards on seven plays, the final one a 36-yard touchdown run on a reverse by Jay Smiley on a fourth-and-four.

A failed pass play on the two-point conversion attempt opened the door for the Eagles.

But after reaching the Carroll 49 on the ensuing series, Eagles quarterback Desmond Gorski was intercepted by Matthew Della Donna, who returned the ball to the Norristown 49.

Ten plays later, the Patriots were in the end zone, courtesy of a 10-yard run by Rahsul Faison, and the older brother had the victory – and some kind words for his younger brother.

“Jason’s on the right road,” he said. “His team has improved. He has some good, young football players and they’ll be a team to be reckoned with in the PAC-10 (where Norristown is headed next season).”

As for going out with a victory, Patriots junior fullback Rich Melito said the plan was to send the seniors out in style.

“It was a lot of people’s last game,” Melito said. “(The Carroll seniors) worked to win this game for themselves, and we wanted to win it for them.”

Over in the Eagles locker room, however, things were not as joyous.

“Hopefully, this will give us a good tune-up for Thanksgiving (when the Eagles will travel to Upper Merion),” Jason said. “We haven’t played since Nov. 7, and it looked like it.

“I guess my brother got the best of me.”

FOOTNOTES >> Melito gained 100 yards rushing and earned the first pass completion of his career when his wobbler on a fullback pass was gathered in by Smiley at the Norristown 10 on the next-to-last play of the first half. “It was the worst pass ever,” Melito chuckled. “My arm felt like a rubber band out there.” Melito was also sporting a wad of cotton in one nostril and blood liberally sprinkled all over his jersey. “I got kicked in the face on the second play of the game,” he said. “It stopped bleeding and then I got my helmet knocked off (while attempting to catch a pass in the end zone) and it bled the rest of the game.”


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