DOWNINGTOWN >> Downingtown East head coach Mike Matta has had many big wins in his years as Cougar head coach.
But it’s likely none are as big as Friday night’s thrilling, 28-24, win over highly touted Coatesville at Kottmeyer Stadium.
Downingtown East threw the Ches-Mont League National Divsion title into a three way tie with Downingtown West, Coatesville and the Cougars all sharing a piece of the prize.
The win also assures the Cougars of a top eight seed in the District 1 playoffs, and a home game at Kottmeyer Stadium next Saturday against a team to be determined. It was the first Ches-Mont League loss for Coatesville since 2015.
“This is a fantastic win for the kids,” Matta said. “We have a great bunch of seniors that are real leaders and the underclassmen respect them so much. Against West a couple weeks ago we may have outcoached ourselves and tonight the kids told us to trust them and they did the job.
“And I have the utmost respect for Coatesville and Matt (Ortega) and Number 1 (Ricky Ortega) and Number 2 (Dapree Bryant). Those two guys are big time dudes and Matt runs a great program.”
Downingtown East rolled up 270 yards rushing on the Coatesville (3-1, 7-2) defense as Spencer Uggla went for 100 yards and Stanley Bryant went for 170 yards on 29 carries. It was Bryant’s interception of Ortega in the final four minutes, deep in Downingtown East (3-1, 9-1) territory, that sealed the win for the Cougars.
“We believed in ourselves and our coahces,” Bryant said. “We played Downingtown football which is power football. We controlled the ball on the ground and never got caught up in the fast game Coatesville likes to play.
“On the interception I saw Ricky could not make the first [down] running because our lineman was cutting him off, so I just read his eyes and got the ball. Then, we had to run out the clock and they were tough. They were trying to strip the ball and it was a war out there. To beat hem is just an electryfying feeling because they are so good.”
The teams traded touchdowns in both the first and second quarters and it was a 14-14 game at halftime, with the Cougars using their power running attack to control the clock. Drew Person hit Nick Lovenguth with a 77-yard touchdown pass and Ricky Ortega had touchdown passes to Dapree Braynt and Jordan Engler.
The Cougars got the second half kickoff but they could not move the ball and Coatesville scored to take a 21-14 lead when Jon Ruttman took a seven-yard pass from Ortega, and it looked like the Red Raiders were going to pull away when the Coatesville defense forced another Cougar punt.
Coatesville came down the field on the arm of Ortega, who completed 23 of 31 passes for 266 yards on the night. But, the Cougar defense held, and all Coatesville could muster was a 31-yard field goal by Pierce Hadzor for a two-score lead at 24-14.
But, on this night, the Cougars would not be denied. They drove down the field, and on a third and seven play, Bryant took the handoff and skirted the left side of the Red Raider defense and hurled his body into the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown run, making it a 24-21 game after three.
Coatesville came down the field, but as they had all night, the Cougar defense bent but didn’t break, forcing a Red Raider punt. The Cougars used battering rams Bryant and Uggla to move the ball to the Coatesville 32-yard line. On a fourth and six play, Person hit Matt Glazer cutting across the middle for a 20-yard gain and the Cougars were in business. Two plays later, Bryant busted in from nine yards out and Downingtown East had a 24-21 lead with a little over six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“Matt Glazer is a kid who has worked so hard,” Matta said. “And after that play I told him you will remember that the rest of your life. And Drew, who is getting beter each week, played well. We maybe should have started him last year and he missed his sophomore year due to inuury so he has not played that much football. But, he is improving every week and he is not afraid. And Stanley Bryant is one tough dude.”
Coatesville rallied around the short passing game led by Ortega, and on a third down play, Ortega rolled to his right and looked downfield. But Bryant jumped the ball and all that was left was for the Cougar ground assault to run out the clock.
“Our coaches had us so wellp repared tonight,” Downingtown East defensive back James Basilii said. “Not many people thought we could win this game but we did. And Stanley came up with that big play at the end. To get a share of the Ches-Mont title and beat a great team like Coatesville is a great feeling.”
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