UPPER DUBLIN >> For Plymouth Whitemarsh, early mistakes do not feel like a death sentence considering its level of talent and experience.
The Colonials quickly overcame a string of first quarter miscues and missed opportunities in their 38-7 win against Upper Dublin. Their first three possessions ended in a lost fumble, a missed field goal, and then another lost fumble.
“We’ve been so good with our ball security this season and I think we came out a little flat,” Plymouth Whitemarsh head coach Dan Chang said. “We were careless with the ball. That’s something that we are going to have to correct this week. Our defense played a hell of a game. They kept us in it. We put them in some bad spots.”
The first fumble occurred on Upper Dublin’s four-yard line. It eliminated the possibility of an early score on Plymouth Whitemarsh’s opening possession, despite having moved the ball with ease. The defense quickly forced a three-and-out.
The second fumble handed the ball to Upper Dublin on Plymouth Whitemarsh’s 19-yard line. After an illegal formation penalty and a nine-yard sack, the game held scoreless. No harm, no foul.
At no point did it feel as though Plymouth Whitemarsh (7-1, 4-1) was in any real danger. Their option offense was going to bear fruit sooner or later, and the defense did not allow the Upper Dublin offense to take advantage of turnovers.
“The defense is executing the game plan pretty well right now,” Chang said. “We have a lot of smart players on the field. So, we are getting ourselves in the right position and executing technique-wise pretty well. We have guys who are physical and can run. They are relentless to the ball.”
The Colonials also came in as the more experienced team, as injuries have become the story of Upper Dublin’s season. The Cardinals are playing without several leaders on both sides of the ball, including senior quarterback Mike Slivka and senior wideout Bazel Brady.
With Slivka sidelined, Upper Dublin turned to sophomore Tristan Cairnes. He was ultimately replaced in the game by Nick Rodriguez.
For Upper Dublin (4-4, 2-3), it feels as though it has turned into a season of survival. Injuries have derailed the Cardinals, and it is a difficult task having to deploy inexperienced players against a team like Plymouth Whitemarsh.
On the defensive side of the ball, Upper Dublin head coach Bret Stover and his staff were challenged with having to stop Plymouth Whitemarsh’s option offense with a depleted unit.
Colonials’ senior quarterback Larry McLaughlin makes that all the more difficult. He is a unique blend of good decision making and raw athleticism and speed.
“I think against option offenses in general, it is not something teams see a lot,” Chang said. “So, when teams have two or three days to prepare for it, it has to be difficult. And (McLaughlin) is doing a great job of taking advantage of his legs and knowing when to throw the ball. He’s benefitting from our offensive line, which is playing really well.”
Because of the program’s senior leadership, Chang has the benefit of not having to worry about heads getting too big as the Colonials inch closer to a possible playoff run.
“I don’t know that I have to really (keep them focused), to tell you the truth,” Chang said. “These guys are so laser-focused right now on what we want to do. They are excited to make some waves and see what we can do.”
PW 38, Upper Dublin 7
PW X 14 7 17
UD X X X 7
PW: McLaughlin 5-run (Choi extra point is GOOD)
PW: Paciello 25-catch (Choi extra point is GOOD)
PW: Paciello 3-run (Choi extra point is GOOD)
PW: Choi 21-field goal
PW: Pierce 38-catch (Choi extra point is GOOD)
UD: Johnson 80-kickoff return (Carl extra point is GOOD)
PW: East 32-run (Choi extra point is GOOD)
Passing: PW: McLaughlin 6-8, 140 yards, 2 TDs. UD: Cairnes 6-13, 32 yards; Rodriguez 2-4, 40 yards.
Rushing: PW: Dresnin 12 rushes, 64 yards; Christian Pierce 3 rushes, 52 yards; Larry McLaughlin 12 rushes, 118 yards, 1 TD; Paciello 5 rushes, 38 yards, 1 TD; Kern 1 rush, 32 yards; Chris McLaughlin 2 rushes, 10 yards; East 1 rush, 32 yards, 1 TD. UD: Rossman 6 rushes, 13 yards; Kohlbrenner 3 rushes, 6 yards; Cairnes 6 rushes, 29 yards; Wright 2 rushes, 7 yards; Sharkey 2 rushes, 3 yards; Gondeck 1 rush, 8 yards.
Receiving: PW: Dresnin 1 catch, 4 yards; Christian Pierce 2 catches, 93 yards, 1 TD; Paciello 2 catches, 26 yards, 1 TD; Lynch 1 catch, 17 yards. UD: Bootman 2 catches, 13 yards; McCary 2 catches, 14 yards; Kohlbrenner 2 catches, 41 yards; Womelsdorf 1 catch, 0 yards; Johnson 1 catch, 4 yards.
Kicking: PW: Choi 1-2 FG, 4-4 XP. UD: Carl 1-1 XP.
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