O’Brien, Marple Newtown get a kick out of beating Aces

NEWTOWN TWP. — Everything was working so well for Marple Newtown, even the kicker threw a touchdown.

The Tigers opened Central League play Friday with a resounding 41-7 victory over Lower Merion. They are 2-0 overall. They never trailed in this one, and the result was never really in doubt. It was efficient, balanced and convincing.

“Everything clicked tonight, that’s why we did so good,” said quarterback Joe Paoletti. “That’s what (led to) the outcome.”

Marple Newtown, mostly via Paoletti, passed for 202 yards. It rushed for 196. It yielded 172 to Lower Merion (0-2, 0-1). It led 13-0 after the first quarter and 27-7 at halftime. The starters were pulled in the fourth quarter.

Things are never as easy as they appear, but this felt different. Tigers coach Chris Gicking, as a coach will do two games into the season and on Labor Day weekend, did not sing sunshine and rainbows. He knew this was a strong effort. He knew it’s not enough.

“It was a good team win, we did a lot of good things and there’s a lot of things we need to work on,” Gicking explained. “Some sloppy things we need to work to get better.”

The offensive line was most impressive, both Gicking and Paoletti said. Penalties and a lack of general crispness need to be improved. But there is time for that. A 34-point thrashing will be savored.

Paoletti threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns — an opening drive four-yard lob to Tyler Lynch and a 70-yard rollout to a wide open Neo Vosschulte shortly before halftime. Top running back Charlie Box rushed for 111 yards and two scores. The first came from two yards out late in the first quarter. The second came from 59 yards away midway through the third quarter. Brian Joslin added an eight-yard touchdown run during that second quarter onslaught.

That was really all the points the Tigers needed. Until Jimmy O’Brien had his moment.

“That throw was incredible,” said a grinning Paoletti. “That was incredible.”

The Tigers kicker was lining up for a 35-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. Kicking opportunities are rare and Gicking wanted the work. The snap was high. O’Brien fielded it and without looking (think Garo Yepremian in Super Bowl VII) chucked it. Unliked Yepremian, this was caught by the correct team. Jonny Small, a reserve sophomore, raced 18 yards for an unlikely touchdown. O’Brien stayed on the field and nailed the extra point.

It was a fun moment to cap a fun evening for Marple Newtown. A more challenging Conestoga side awaits next week. They will be met by a confident team and a balanced attack.

“We want to do whatever the defense is going to give us,” Gicking said. “The key is that we can do both. If you can run and pass, it usually works out well.”

Lower Merion got its touchdown during the second quarter on Rodger Roberts’ 19-yard pass to a nifty Abdoulie Sahor. The Aces were penalized three consecutive times for motion before they successfully ran a play from scrimmage. The rest of the game went accordingly.

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