UPPER DARBY — With a succession of missed opportunities that began early and continued late, Bonner-Prendergast High fell, 26-20, to Neumann-Goretti Friday in a football confrontation for first place in the Blue division of the Catholic League.
Expecting for weeks to enjoy the benefit of a spirited crowd, including a reunion of Bonner’s 1961 city championship team, the Friars were made to create their own energy when fans were prohibited from attending.
With what were said to have been “credible” social media outside threats to disrupt the game, Bonner called off its reunion night and played to mostly silence, with the only cheers coming from a small crowd gathered outside the fence on Lansdowne Ave.
While that erosion of home-field edge did not explain how Neumann-Goretti could generate 435 offensive yards, it did underline a night of disappointment for the Friars.
“It was like a 15-rounder,” Bonner-Prendie coach Jack Muldoon said. “But we left some points out there. We made turnovers. And I will give them credit: They played an error-free game.”
Marqui Adams passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns, including a 39-yard strike to Ahmir Batts with 40.5 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Saints their 26-20 lead.
When the Friars lost a fourth-quarter fumble at the Neumann-Goretti nine, they would enjoy no more favorable field position and eventually fall to 2-1 in the Blue, 4-2 overall. Jayden Sumpter provided 80 rushing yards and Jayden Styles added 74, including a 60-yard touchdown blast, to lift Neumann-Goretti to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the league.
“This season is definitely not over,” said versatile Friars lineman David Kpeglo, a heavy-hitter who delivered a sack. “We will work harder and bounce back next week. I guarantee we will not lose any more. Guarantee.”
That will be up to the Friars to begin to prove next week against visiting Carroll under what should be a more typical Friday night football crowd.
“It’s a shame,” Muldoon said. “We would have had a raucous crowd. We had a lot of people coming here.”
Bonner was ready early, with Mason Peterson scoring on a four-yard run with a direct snap and Patrick Awo catching a 20-yard TD pass from Shane Mulholland within the first seven minutes. But Neumann-Goretti would calmly draw within 13-8 on the final play of the first quarter, a one-yard Shawn Battle run followed by a two-point conversion pass from Adams to Styles.
Styles’ 60-yard scoring run gave Neumann-Goretti its first lead in the second. The momentum, Muldoon believed, was vanishing in the silence.
“It was a huge difference,” he said. “They (the Saints) did want to come back and play Saturday, with fans. But I thought we had a shot at them this year.”
A 38-yard scoring pass from Adams to Yazeed Haynes out N-G up, 20-13, with 8:04 left in the third. But after taking over at the Saints’ 34 just 2:21 later, Mullholland ran for 21 yards, then 13 for a score. Kieran Farren’s second PAT forced a 20-20 tie.
“I knew they were coming in hard, so nobody was going to be outside the pocket,” Mulholland said. “So I just saw that open lane and took off.”
Neumann-Goretti, however, responded with the Batts TD, and Bonner-Prendie was left to lament some missed chances.
“We just have to bounce back,” said Peterson, who rushed 26 times for 137 yards. “We’ll be back Sunday, get it right, and get ready for Carroll.”
There is time left in the season, but the Friars might need some help. Either way, Muldoon sees progress.
“Our program is to the point where we are playing with a really high-caliber team with great athletes in Neumann-Goretti,” he said. “And with all the adversity, all this nonsense going on, these kids played hard”
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