UPPER DUBLIN >> For the second time in as many games, the Upper Dublin defense put points on the board.
In the season opener against Wissahickon, Micah Bootman returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown. In Friday night’s game against Bensalem, Kyree Butler forced a fumble in the end zone and fell on the ball for six points.
Bootman’s score helped the Cardinals win a close game over Wissahickon while Butler’s started a dominant effort for the defense against Bensalem in a 42-8 Suburban One League Continental Conference win at Upper Dublin High School.
“That takes all the pressure off our offense when (the defense) scores first,” Upper Dublin head coach Bret Stover said, crediting defensive coordinator Dave Sowers and the position coaches for having the players ready. “It settles everybody in.
“It’s fun to watch them fly to the ball. We call it ‘cheetah’ – they just ‘cheetah’ to the ball, man. We fly on angles and we make plays.”
Butler’s big play came on the third possession of the game. Bensalem and Upper Dublin traded three-and-outs, and Upper Dublin punter Owen Carl pinned the Owls in at their one-yard line. After a pre-snap penalty moved the ball inside the one, Butler broke through the offensive line, knocked the ball out and fell on it to give the Cardinals (2-0, 1-0 SOL Continental) the first score of the game.
“Everyone held their gap,” Upper Dublin linebacker Jacob Rossman said, “and 56 Kyree Butler made a great play. He beat his lineman, tackled him and then got the fumble. The running back had nowhere to go – everyone had their gaps.”
The touchdown was just the start of a dominant night for Upper Dublin’s defense. After grabbing three interceptions against Wissahickon in Week 1, the Cardinals recovered three fumbles, intercepted one pass and held the Owls (0-2, 0-2 SOL Continental) to four first downs and 46 total yards.
Michael Wright grabbed the interception later in the first quarter and on the first play of the ensuing drive quarterback Colin O’Sullivan connected with Bootman for a 24-yard score to extend the Cardinals lead to 21-0.
Upper Dublin has always preached the importance of its scout team, the Blue Raiders. The reserves mimic upcoming opponents in practice to help the starters get prepared for games.
With a 35-0 lead at halftime, the Blue Raiders were able to get plenty of playing time in the second half Friday night.
The highlight of the night that got the biggest reaction from the Cardinals sideline was a 45-yard touchdown run by running back Alex Higginbotham. The junior fought through a number of tackles before breaking away in the fourth quarter and giving UD a 42-0 lead.
“(Higginbotham) works his butt off all week playing for the Blue Raiders,” Rossman said. “It’s just a great feeling seeing him get the credit he really deserves with that touchdown.”
“It’s really kind of a thankless job,” Stover said, “but this is the reward when you get a chance. I was so happy for Alex. That was a highlight film run right there. He broke a bunch of tackles … All the guys who are in the starting roles were those Blue Raiders when they were younger kids. They know the pecking order and progression in the program.”
Upper Dublin made the home opener of the 2020 season its Senior Night. Prior to the game, members of the football team, band and cheerleading squad were honored on the field.
“We’ve been thinking about this since freshman year,” Rossman said. “All of us seniors – we just wanted to win on Senior Night. That’s what we got. We can relax this weekend and sleep peacefully.”