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La Salle bests Father Judge, advances to PCL 6A Final

WHITEMARSH >> It wasn’t pretty and it was far from perfect, but La Salle got two touchdown runs from Sy Madden and two touchdown passes from quarterback Tom Lamorte en route to a 34-21 win over Father Judge and a berth in the Philadelphia Catholic League 6A final, which will be played at Northeast High Friday night at 7 p.m.

“We made a lot of mistakes,” said Explorers head coach John Steinmetz after the Explorers pulled away from a 21-all tie late in the second half, “and that’s something we’re going to have to clean up before we play Prep.

“We had two mental mistakes that led to scoring drives for Judge, and that’s something we’re going to have to work on.”

La Salle scored on its first possession when LaMorte capped a 75-yard eight-play march with a 32-yard scramble to the end zone.

It was a scramble that Lamorte probably couldn’t have made earlier this season.

“I had a calf injury that s been bothering me since early in the year,” the quarterback said, “but it’s been feeling better lately, and I was able to use it tonight, especially on that run.”

The Crusaders got it tied via an eight-play, 46-yard drive capped by a 6-yard scoring run by quarterback Rob King.

La Salle took back the lead on a drive late in the second quarter, a two-play excursion begun by a LaMorte to Tre McNeill pass, and capped by a 13-yard pass to Joey Burnham just one play later.

Judge’s promising ensuing drive was halted by a sack of King but the Crusaders caught a huge break when the resultant punt hit the leg of a La Salle player and was covered by the Crusaders deep in La Salle territory.

Two snaps later the Crusaders tied it when Jeremy Smith made a leaping catch of a King pass in the back of the end zone.

Deadlocked at halftime, the two sides would be tied just one more time before the Explorers were able to ice the verdict

Madden capped a seven-play, 50-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run that gave the Explorers a 21-14 lead with 7:48 left in the third quarter.

But the Crusaders got it back even four offensive snaps later when King carried it in from the three-yard line, a score set up by a 26-yard run by King.

La Salle had an answer for that score, courtesy of a six-play, 62-yard drive topped by an 11-yard pass from Lamorte to Burnham, although the extra point was missed.

Burnham, a little used fullback, wound up with two touchdown receptions, a facet of the Explorers offense that pleased Madden.

“When you see Joey doing those things, that means everybody is getting involved in the offense,” Madden said. “Those kinds of plays open things up for all of us.

“Joey had a great game.”

The distance score came courtesy of Madden, who put the finishing touches on a nine-play 77-yard drive with a 36-yard touchdown run.

By game’s end, Madden had 168 yards rushing and Lamorte had 174 yards passing. But most importantly, the Explorers were on their way to the 6A finals.

“I’m not going to worry about Prep tonight,” Steinmetz said. “But we’re going to have to clean things up if we’re going to be competitive against them next week.”

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