Concord >> Garnet Valley has a wide variety of offensive weapons, which the Jaguars displayed in their 55-14 win against visiting Conestoga Friday evening.
One week ago, Garnet Valley ran the ball 38 times for 273 yards and threw only five passes in a 41-7 win against Downingtown West. Friday, the Jaguars switched gears, turning to a potent passing attack to build a comfortable 40-14 halftime lead against the Pioneers.
Garnet Valley senior quarterback Max Busenkell sparkled Friday evening, completing 12 of 13 passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns by halftime.
“Max is a really balanced quarterback,” said Garnet Valley head coach Mike Ricci. “He can throw the ball, run the ball, he’s a phenomenal decision maker. Our offense likes to take what the defense gives us, and Conestoga had eight men in the box, so Max did a great job of taking advantage of that and hitting the open guy. Our offensive line played really well tonight, gave him good protection.”
On the Jaguars’ first possession Friday, the hosts drove 61 yards in seven plays for a touchdown, highlighted by Busenkell connecting on three consecutive passes for 44 yards, including a 29-yard catch by senior running back Ryan Saunders. Two plays later, Saunders ran up the middle for a 5-yard touchdown.
Early in the second quarter, with Garnet Valley holding a 14-0 lead, Conestoga exploded for a quick touchdown. On third-and-10 at the Conestoga 48, Pioneer quarterback Calvin Shirley hit senior standout receiver Kyle Detwiler with a short pass on the right sideline. Detwiler made a nice cut, eluded two defenders and raced down the right sideline for a 52-yard touchdown.
Garnet Valley came right back with a couple of big plays that led to a touchdown. Sean Gallagher made a long kickoff return to midfield, and senior wide receiver Ndozi Okolo made a fine leaping catch for a 35-yard reception at the 1-yard line. Junior running back Jason Bernard battered over the goal line from the 1, and Gallagher scored on the two-point conversion to make it 22-7.
Earlier in the game, Garnet Valley senior running back Shane Reynolds, who gained 135 rushing yards in 10 carries against D-West, was sidelined with an injury but the Jaguars’ offense continued to purr.
“When Shane [Reynolds] went out I liked the way he reacted on the sideline, he stayed there and helped coach the other kids,” said Ricci. “Jason Bernard came in, and he’s a strong, physical kid who runs really hard, and I love the way he ran tonight. Ryan Saunders also did a good job [running].”
Garnet Valley’s defense then turned up the pressure, pinning Conestoga deep into its own territory and finally earning a safety when a Pioneer ballcarrier was tackled in his own end zone by several Jaguar defenders.
Ricci said, “Defensively, we gave up one big play, that No. 4 [Detwiler] is a really great receiver, he made a great cut and scored a touchdown, but other than that I felt our defense was dominant. We have a lot of fast defenders who really get after the ball, and I really liked the pursuit we had tonight.”
Following a 14-yard touchdown pass by Busenkell that gave the hosts a 32-7 lead with 3:39 to play before halftime, Conestoga came right back with a 91-yard kickoff return by Patrick Reilly, who found a hole up the middle, then raced down the left sideline to paydirt.
Five plays later, Garnet Valley scored another touchdown. The big plays were a 30-yard pass from Busenkell to Gallagher, and a well-placed 12-yard TD pass to the left sideline, again on the Busenkell-to-Gallagher connection.
Conestoga head coach Matt Diamond said, “Going in we knew how good of a football team Garnet Valley is. They provide a bunch of challenges with their unbalanced sets, with the different looks that they give. And with the deception that Garnet Valley gives, your kids have to read their keys, they have to trust their keys, and they have to react instantly. And if you hesitate, their linemen get up on your linebackers real quick, and it becomes where they’re able to move the ball on the ground.
“Garnet Valley runs a lot of verticals where you’ve got to get your linebackers to slow down some of those guys off the line. They were able to hit on some of those tonight. Our kids were ready but Garnet Valley executed it very cleanly.”
Ricci said, “I’m really impressed with Conestoga; they’re a team on the rise, the score doesn’t show it too much tonight, but I thought they did a lot of really good things on offense.”
Diamond said, “After the game, I told our kids that we’re going to be fine. The kids were playing some good football; tonight we made some mistakes against a good football team, and you’re not going to win with that, but our kids are going to be all right. We have some things we can do on the outside, some guys that are running the football hard, our quarterback is making good decisions. We’re going to be all right, but we’ve got to get back to basics for next week, and I’m confident that we’re going to do that.”
Garnet Valley 55, Conestoga 14
Conestoga 0 14 0 0 – 14
Garnet Valley 6 34 8 7 – 55
First quarter scoring
GV – Saunders, 5, run (kick blocked)
Second quarter scoring
GV – Okolo, 10, pass from Busenkell (Wrzesniewski pass from Busenkell)
CON – Detwiler, 52, pass from Shirley (Stein kick)
GV – Bernard, 1, run (Gallagher run)
GV – Safety
GV – Halloran, 14, pass from Busenkell (Busenkell run)
CON – Reilly, 91, kickoff return (Stein kick)
GV – Gallagher, 12, pass from Busenkell (Saunders run)
Third quarter scoring
GV – Bernard, 7, run (Saunders run)
Fourth quarter scoring
GV – Leraris, 25, run (Liberatore kick)
First downs 6 21
Rushes – yards 18-(-24) 38-232
Yards passing 105 184
Total yards 81 416
Comp-att-int 6-13-0 12-13-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Interceptions 0 0
Penalties-yds 6-50 6-40
Punts-avg. 5-26.0 0-0
Conestoga – Quici 8-13, Allred 1-5, Detwiler 2-minus 5, Shirley 5-minus 35, Kelly 1-minus 4, DePhillipo 1-2; Totals 18-minus 24.
Garnet Valley – Bernard 9-59 2 TDs, Saunders 4-17 TD, Gallagher 3-26, Reynolds 2-6, Westburg 6-18, Busenkell 2-21, Checcio 7-43, Leraris 4-38 TD, Mesaros 1-4, Totals 38-232.
Conestoga – Shirley 6-13-0, 105 yards, TD.
Garnet Valley – Busenkell 12-13-0, 184 yards, 3 TDs.
Conestoga – Detwiler 4-97 TD, Reilly 2-8.
Garnet Valley – Gallagher 5-63 TD, Saunders 3-55, Halloran 1-14 TD, Okolo 3-52 TD.
Conestoga – None.
Garnet Valley – Van Horn, Sorokanych, Jackalous, Brennan, Wrzesniewski.
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