SPRINGFIELD — Daetrel Jerome and Scott Belveal shared the sledgehammer that Radnor coach Tom Ryan has handed out for the last decade or so.
The big stick is given to the Raiders’ defensive player of the game. Jerome, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound lineman and Belveal, a hard-nosed linebacker, earned the prize Friday night. They also shared the block on Springfield’s game-tying, 30-yard field goal attempt in the waning seconds, allowing Radnor to pull out a thrilling, 13-10 victory at the Cougars’ beautiful new home stadium.
“You bull-rush him and I’ll run right behind … and we’ll both get our hands up,” Belveal said, recalling the plan on the final play. Belveal came flying into the backfield to get a piece of the ball. “I don’t think their kids knew it was coming, honestly.”
Jerome got a push at the line of scrimmage and his bear paw on the ball.
“I just had to go all out,” Jerome said.
“I told him, ‘Daetrel, go for it and don’t hold back,'” Belveal said.”And we won.”
It was the first defeat of the 2020 season for Springfield (2-1). Radnor (2-1) needed the win to stay in the running for first place in the Central League’s Class 5A division with two regular season weeks to go.
Radnor visits 3-0 Marple Newtown next Friday.
“I know everyone is going to have this memory for a long time,” Belveal said. “I think coming into this game, we didn’t think we were going to win, but we came out on top and it’s a great feeling.”
Belveal, who recovered a fumble and was outstanding all night on defense, led the Radnor ground attack with 79 yards on 16 carries.
The Raiders needed a jolt after halftime and got it from their most dynamic player. All-Delco Jahmir Dixon, the county’s leading wide receiver since the start of the 2019 campaign, took a sweep 12 yards to the end zone to give Radnor its first lead in the third quarter.
“Whenever my coach calls a play, we run it. There’s no thought to it, we do it and get the play done,” said Dixon, who hauled in four catches for 39 yards. “We just knew we had to do whatever it took to win the game.”
Radnor’s 7-3 advantage vanished later in the third period. Springfield defensive lineman Rob Hneleski intercepted quarterback Juan Pablo Moreland at the Radnor 20-yard line and was tackled at the 4. Two plays later, Jack Clark plowed across the goal line and Springfield was back on top.
Moreland redeemed himself in the fourth quarter. On third down, he connected with Tommy Deshan for a 39-yard score to put Radnor back ahead. Moreland completed 8 of 14 passing attempts for 102 yards.
“He had a great game today, you can’t be mad at him,” Dixon said. “He made some big plays.”
“Tommy’s small and sometimes he gets lost,” Belveal said. “He was wide open down there.”
While the Cougars managed just three points in the first half, they dominated time of possession. It was their rushing game that set the tone, led by senior running back Jayden Baiden, the county’s leading rusher. Baiden had 50 yards by the end of the first quarter and finished with 158 yards on 29 carries.
Radnor did a better job containing Baiden and applying pressure on quarterback Jake Rama (16-for-24, 118 yards) in the second half. Mark McKeon had an interception and Damian Falcone was productive at linebacker. Reece Evans was a factor on defense and on special teams with his punting.
“We came into the game and coach said if we stop No. 4 (Baiden), we’re going to get the game done,” Dixon said. “We always have confidence with our offense and our defense. Our defensive teams can make plays … and they came out strong today. That’s what won us the game.”
Ryan was beaming with pride following the win.
“The kids adjusted great at the half, same as we did last week,” Ryan said. “We were losing 6-2 at halftime last week and we came back (28-6 over Penncrest). I’m just so happy that we got the win here on the road. It’s so hard to win at Springfield. With all the craziness of this year, I’m so happy the kids get this joy.”