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Penncrest battles, but no match for powerhouse Garnet Valley ground game

MIDDLETOWN — The outcome never was in doubt, not even when Garnet Valley was stopped on its first possession Friday night.

Rather, it was a gesture of spirit and sportsmanship shown late in the fourth quarter of Penncrest’s humbling 63-0 loss to the Central League-leading Jaguars that left something for the Lions to build on.

There was no quit in Jerry Coia, or his teammates. The Lions linebacker illustrated it when he sliced through blockers and put Jaguars running back David Torrens on his back short of a first down at his own three-yard line.

After helping Torrens regain his feet, exchanging a pat on the back and “good job” with his opponent, Coia dug back in with his guys.

“We were all trying our best,” Coia said of the Lions’ defense. “We were all just trying our best to make that stop. We all have to get together as a team and just sort of take each other’s backs and trust each other.”

There would be no happy ending for the Lions. Humaam Said barreled over from two yards out to complete the scoring at Louis Scott Field. He was the sixth player to get into the end zone, Jake Morin and Evan Fenster rushing for two touchdowns apiece as the Jaguars (6-1, 6-0) reached a season-high in points.

The Lions (2-5, 1-5) can take solace in making the Jaguars earn the victory, the hosts not turning the ball over except for a punt Alex Nicolaides blocked into the end zone, Dylan Hogan falling on it for a touchdown.

Linebacker Matt Gabel, who recorded four solo tackles and three assists, applauded the toughness shown by the Lions in the face of a superior opponent.

“They have a good team,” Gabel said. “We just wanted to come out and give them our all.”

The Jaguars put up 42 points in the first half, their most before intermission this season, as well as 270 yards of offense.

Left guard Zac Green and the offensive line wore down the shorthanded Lions, who had enough walking wounded to fill up a section of the press box. The run game amassed 410 yards on the night, led by 76 from Greg Reynolds.

“I think it’s just dominant,” Green said. “It shows the weight-room work we put in, the work we put in at practice. I think we put in 100 percent every day and it shows up out on the field.”

There may be more difficult times ahead for the Lions as they try to work their way back into the light. Garnet Valley coach Mike Ricci can sympathize with the job ahead for Penncrest counterpart Ryan Smith.

“I just am so proud of the job that Ryan Smith is doing at Penncrest,” Ricci said. “He came in here, he knew he had a lot of work to do and he’s really working hard to put Penncrest in position to be successful. He’s laying the foundation for the program. We came in here with a lot of respect for him, for his staff and for what they do. We’re in a different place than they are right now and our guys really were able to come out and do a really good job of executing tonight.”

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