WHITEMARSH >> The Plymouth Whitemarsh offense never really got into rhythm during Friday night’s 17-14 Suburban One League American Conference loss to William Tennent at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.
The Colonials two touchdowns came in the third quarter. One was a 69-yard run by Aiden O’Brien and the other a 20-yard run by Chris Mclaughlin after recovering a fumble on Tennent’s side of the 50-yard line.
Without O’Brien’s long touchdown run, PW averaged just 3.19 yards per carry – running the ball 47 times for 150 yards.
“(Tennent) was being physical,” PW head coach Dan Chang said. “They were doing a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage and we just couldn’t put a drive together.”
The offense had a few encouraging drives in the game, but all three ended with turnovers.
In the second quarter when the game was scoreless, running back Nate Kern picked up a first down crossing midfield. At the end of the run, he fumbled and William Tennent came up with the recovery. Six plays later, the Panthers scored for a 6-0 lead.
On the Colonials ensuing possession, Mclaughlin connected with Phil Taormina for a 25-yard gain to put the ball right on the 50. The next play Mclaughlin was sacked, fumbled and Tennent recovered. Kern grabbed an interception on the defensive possession inside his 20-yard line to keep the Panthers off the board and send the game to halftime, 6-0.
After Tennent scored a touchdown to take a 17-14 lead, PW took over late in the third quarter. Kern and Zion East ran for a pair of first downs to set the Colonials up on the Panthers side of the field in the beginning of the fourth. On 2nd-and-long, Mclaughlin’s pass down the left sideline was intercepted when Tennent’s Matt Miller came down with a jumpball and toe-tapped his feet on the sideline.
“Turnovers are always a big part of the game,” Chang said. “When you turn the ball over three times you’re not going to win a lot of football games. It’s something we’re going to have to focus on and improve on. Like I told the guys, we’ll get better from this.
“I don’t think we played our best game tonight. I thought the kids played hard. They fought the whole time, we battled, but we really made a lot of errors tonight that ended up hurting us.”
Defending the pass
The PW defense limited the Tennent rushing attack to 38 yards on 28 attempts and recovered a fumble, but it didn’t have the same success in the passing game.
Tennent’s Miller completed 11-of-20 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown to go along with the interception late in the first half.
Miller’s biggest throws came in the third quarter. After PW took a 14-9 lead, Nick Scannapieco’s kickoff pinned the Panthers down at their own 9-yard line. The first play was a 38-yard connection between Miller and Fernando Delgado with a 15-yard facemask penalty tacked on at the end. The next play was a 38-yard touchdown from Miller to Ryan Emmerich to put the Panthers ahead for good.
“It was a huge momentum change right there,” Chang said. “We had a great kickoff, great coverage and then we can’t fall apart and give up a big play there. It was big, definitely.”
Miller connected with Derrick Consenza for the two-point conversion to make it 17-14 with 1:33 left in the third. Consenza gave the PW defense trouble all night, reeling in six catches for 95 yards.
“(Consenza) was a returner for them from last year,” Chang said. “He hasn’t played the first two games, I think he was hurt. He came back and he was huge for them. We had trouble guarding him, tackling him. He’s a good player.”
The loss drops Plymouth Whitemarsh to 1-2 on the season and 0-1 in SOL American play. With two games left, the Colonials are just focusing on Upper Moreland next week and not where they stand in the District 1-5A playoff picture.
“Upper Moreland’s a very good team,” Chang said. “We’re going to have to make sure we really focus and bear down and get ready for them this week.
“I’m going to go week-by-week and try to take care of Upper Moreland next.”