One-dimensional offense dooms Upper Dublin

FRANCONIA >> For 14 games, Upper Dublin High’s offense remained potent, in part, because of its balance.

The Cardinals were able to run and throw with equal proficiency, and opposition defenses were forced to contend with both facets.

But in Saturday afternoon’s PIAA Class AAAA Semifinal Playoff game, Parkland made a concerted effort to take one of those facets away.

Their goal was to take away the Cardinals run game — and they succeeded in spades.

By game’s end, the Cardinals had just 46 yards rushing and the Trojans had a 30-14 victory and a berth in the PIAA Class AAAA title game Saturday in Hershey.

The plan, said Parkland head coach Jim Morgans, was hatched during this past week.

“That was a big part of our game plan,” he said. “As it turned out, they took our running game away from us, too.”

“Hats off to them,” said Cardinals head coach Bret Stover of Parkland. “They just penetrated so well. Our linemen were coming back to the bench saying they couldn’t stop them.

“We were one-dimensional after that.”

With the Cardinals limited to their passing game, the Trojans flourished, ultimately rallying from a 14-7 deficit to finish the contest with 23 unanswered points.

“They do a lot of things that will confuse a lot of high school football players,” said Upper Dublin quarterback Ryan Stover. “You have to give it to them.

“We fought, we did everything we could, it just wasn’t our day.”

On the other side of the ball, Parkland’s quarterback, Devante Cross was limited after an injury sustained in last weekend’s win over La Salle.

With Cross not at full gallop, the Trojans went to a wildcat look with receiver Nolan Ridgway moving under center.

“We worked all week on the wildcat,” Morgans said. “We knew we were going to do that, and we knew Ridgway could do it because he used to be a quarterback.”

The offensive set paid dividends in the third quarter when Ridgway’s 10-yard run up the middle tied the game at 14.

Then after Kenny Yeboah intercepted a Stover pass to set the Trojans up at the Upper Dublin 45, the Trojans went ahead to stay on a four-play drive, highlighted by a 34-yard pass from Cross to Zach Boss and capped with a 5-yard touchdown run by Erik DiGirolamo on the final play of the third quarter.

Then two plays after the Trojans were awarded a safety when the snap for a Cardinals punt rolled out of the end zone, the Trojans brought down the hammer with a 46-yard strike from Cross to Yeboah with 10:23 left in the game.

The Cardinals had no answers, and soon the Trojans were in full celebration mode.

“It was a battle,” Morgans said, “and (Upper Dublin) is an outstanding football team.”

But on this day it was a football team with virtually no running game.

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