UPPER MORELAND >> It was Johnson & Johnson to the end zone and a whole lot more, as Upper Moreland packed plenty into its PIAA-4A First Round victory, a 35-0 shutout of Archbishop Ryan.
“We have a lot of weapons. We can do a lot of different things,” Golden Bears coach C.J. Szydlik said. “Last week (in a loss to) Quakertown, they took a lot of things away. So we spent all week trying to figure out different ways to get kids the ball.
“It was ‘back to the lab,’ as they say, and we kind of did that, changed some formations and made some adjustments, and obviously it paid off.”
The payoff was a complete victory for the Golden Bears (5-1), and a trip to next week’s state quarterfinals.
“All week long, we preached to make history,” said senior Jahaire Johnson, who caught a pair of touchdown passes and added an interception. “Most of the starters have been going at it for four years so most of our starters have been at it for a long time.
“This is all we’ve been wishing for since freshman year.”
It was a satisfying end to a hectic week for the Bears, who learned they would be facing Ryan — and not Bonner & Prendergast due to a positive COVID-19 test — in the final.
Upper Moreland came through with its finest effort of the season. The Bears rushed for 308 yards, including 150 by Cam Jackson, who broke loose for a pair of scores. Quarterback Byron Hopkins ran for 71 yards and threw for 78 yards and two scores. Hassan Johnson, Jahaire’s younger brother, intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards for a score, part of a dominant performance by the defense.
“I’m very grateful for him,” Jahaire said of his younger brother. “He’s only a sophomore so he has years to come.”
Upper Moreland opened the scoring with a one-yard burst by Jackson, then Hopkins found Jahaire Johnson for a 12-yard TD connection, making it 14-0 in the second quarter.
Said Johnson: “I realized that they were playing mostly man, and that I could get open. (On my second TD), it was the same thing. I knew I was gonna beat the guy inside and force him to bite on the inside slant. Then I broke it back out and I was open, and (Byron) made a great throw.”
Jahaire’s second TD, good for 20 yards, along with Hassan Johnson’s interception return, had Upper Moreland up 28-0 at halftime.
The Bears pushed it into mercy-rule territory in the third quarter, when Jackson broke free for a 61-yard sprint down the right sideline.
“We won a playoff game last year and then we went to Bishop Shanahan and did not play very well,” Szydlik said. “So this year, we told them now we need to take that step. We need to finish the next level. And, honestly, we did. We played pretty well.
“It’s gonna be interesting to see where we have to go next week and all that stuff. As coaches, some of us have been through this before but for the kids, it will definitely be different. But we’re gonna enjoy the experience. I told them they’re one of eight teams left in the state (in 4A). You can’t ask for anything better than this.”
A young Ryan team had its moments on Friday night, many of them by the versatile junior, Joe Mastrangelo (39 yds rushing, 57 yds receiving, interception on defense).
“He’s a ball player,” Raiders coach Bill Murphy said. “He comes to play every game. He just makes things happen. We’re only playing five seniors so next year, we have a bright future.
“It was a good experience to come up here and play a great team. C.J. and I grew up together so it was a fun, little battle. And that was good to see, bringing back a neighborhood rivalry. It was good for my guys to come up here and get this experience and strive for it next year.”
Upper Moreland 35, Archbishop Ryan 0
Archbishop Ryan 0 0 0 0 – 0
Upper Moreland 7 21 7 0 – 35
UM-Cam Jackson 1 run (Jaryd Meehl kick), 3:59.
UM-Jahaire Johnson 12 pass from Byron Hopkins (Meehl kick), 6:13.
UM-Hassan Johnson 25 interception return (Meehl kick), 4:27.
UM-J. Johnson 20 pass from Hopkins (Meehl kick), :01.
UM-Jackson 61 run (Meehl kick), 2:09.
First Downs 6 18
Rushes-yards 22-70 34-308
Passing 9-18-0 6-14-2
Passing yards 73 78
Total yards 143 386
Punts 4 1
Penalties-yds 7-52 6-61
Fumbles-lost 0 0
AR: Arturo Brunelli 5-2; Kevin Szchulski 11-32; Joe Mastrangelo 2-39; Dwayne Yost 4-(-3).
UM: Colin Hogan 2-(-2); Byron Hopkins 7-71; Hassan Johnson 1-2; Cam Jackson 14-150, 2 TD; Anthony Broderick 3-33; McKeyl Hudson 2-20; Chance Byrd 5-34.
AR: Yost 9-18-73-0-2.
UM: Hopkins 6-14-78-2-1.
AR: Sean Reed 1-2; Szchulski 1-(-2); Mastrangelo 3-57; Eric Stevenson 1-2; Sean Roehmild 3-14.
UM: Jackson 1-13; J. Johnson 4-54, 2 TD; Broderick 1-11.
AR: Mastrangelo; UM: H. Johnson, J. Johnson.