Tredyffrin >> Conestoga quarterback Peter Costigan’s running helped key the Pioneers’ 28-27 win against previously undefeated Marple Newtown Friday evening at Teamer Field.
Costigan scored three touchdowns on runs of 20, 7 and 83 yards, for Conestoga (4-1), and ran for more than 200 total yards on Homecoming night for the Pioneers.
“Last week in our [15-14] win against Haverford we really got Peter going in the run game, and that really opened some things for us,” said Conestoga head coach Matt Diamond. “Going into this week I knew we were going to have him carry the ball, and our [offensive] line did a phenomenal job.
“Marple Newtown is a terrific football team, they’re 4-0 [before tonight] for a reason. They’re well-coached but I just thought our kids played physical, and we were able to create some turnovers on the defensive side, and then our special teams made a difference.”
The biggest play on special teams for Conestoga was a 90-yard kickoff return by Bryce Beltrante just after Marple Newtown had taken a 7-0 lead 78 seconds into the contest on a 50-yard TD pass from David Bertoline to Brian Box.
“That kickoff return really was a big play for us, after Marple had hit on that long pass,” said Diamond. “It neutralized Marple’s momentum, and was a big, big special teams play.”
Marple then went three-and-out and booted a very short punt that finished on the Tigers’ 28 yard line. The Pioneers put together a 28-yard TD drive, capped by Costigan’s 20 yard run into the end zone.
The momentum switched back to Marple when the Tigers, pinned on their own 20 yard line on 3rd and 30, completed a screen pass from Bertoline to Bryan Bogan that gained 68 yards down to the Conestoga 12 yard line. Four plays later, on fourth-and-four from the Pioneers 6 yard line, Bertoline hit Bogan across the middle in the end zone to tie the score at 14-14.
With 5:40 to go before halftime, Conestoga’s Jude Cook made an interception at the Marple 43. Three plays later, Costigan hit Brody Eaton for a short pass that the receiver took all the way down to the Marple 5 yard line. Two plays later, Costigan scored on a 7 yard run to give the Pioneers a 21-14 that held up until halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, following a 39-yard completion by Bertoline, a subsequent fumble – one of three Tiger turnovers – was recovered by Conestoga at the Pioneers’ 17. On the very next play, Costigan carried the ball up the middle and then down the left side for an 83-yard touchdown to give the hosts a 28-14 lead.
“Against a good football team like Marple, you’ve got to create some turnovers,” said Diamond. “Marple’s offense does so many formations, so many looks, you have to prepare for so much. I’m so proud of our kids’ resolve, for us to come out and beat a real quality team the way that we did.”
Marple came right back, scoring three plays later on a 33-yard TD run by Box to cut the hosts’ lead to 28-21 with 4:59 left in the third quarter.
With about six minutes left in the game, Marple moved downfield, aided by a couple of Conestoga penalties, and Bertoline scored on a 12- yard TD run. The kick was blocked and the Pioneers held a razor-thin 28-27 lead with 4:46 left.
The Tigers had the ball at midfield with 1:49 left, preparing for a final drive, but 13 seconds later a Marple fumble was recovered by the Pioneers at the Conestoga 42, and the hosts ran the clock out.
Throughout the game, the Conestoga defensive line put some pressure on Bertoline, and nailed him for several sacks.
“I would say that our defensive line is a big part of the strength of our defense,” said Diamond. “They were able to provide pressure and keep [Bertoline] contained. Marple’s offense did a real good job but at the end of the day we made enough plays and we were able to walk out of here with a win.
“Peter Costigan ran the ball really hard, and both [Jon] Quici and [Jake] Allred did a good job of mixing up the running as well as blocking. I’m really happy with the way our kids responded, this was a real quality win.”
Marple was missing versatile junior defensive back/wide receiver Ty Can, who also handles the kicking chores for the Tigers. Can was sidelined due to an injury suffered in last week’s contest.
“Ty’s a stud on offense, on defense and on special teams,” said Marple coach Chris Gicking. “Conestoga’s a real good team, they deserved to win. We just made too many mistakes, and they capitalized. When you play a good team like [Conestoga], you just can’t make as many mistakes as we did tonight and expect to win – we turned the ball over three times.
“Conestoga has a really good defense – I think we only had 35 plays on offense. They controlled the ball a lot, and Costigan ran all over the place. … We’ve got to get a lot better this week because we have a hard game next week against Springfield.”
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