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Fourth-down stops send Plymouth Whitemarsh past Chester

Plymouth Whitemarsh running back Tommy Hannon (34) lines up behind quarterback Aiden O'Brien (4) against Chester Friday. (Ed Morlock/MediaNews Group)

WHITEMARSH >> Plymouth Whitemarsh’s defense faced arguably its toughest test of the season in the District 1-5A quarterfinals Friday night. The Colonials were matched up with Chester, a team averaging 37.2 points per game through 11 games.

When the grades came back, PW passed the test with flying colors.

The fourth-seeded Colonials held the fifth-seeded Clippers to their lowest point total of the season, grabbed two interceptions and recovered a fumble in a 30-12 win at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.

“I think we played some good D,” PW coach Dan Chang said. “We’ve got guys who fly around, guys who can get off blocks and then our secondary guys I thought did a great job, too. We were able to contain that QB a little bit. They have some really nice players, they do really nice things as a program schematically. I’m proud of how we were able to contain them.”

The Plymouth Whitemarsh (10-2) defense really made its mark on the game on fourth downs. Chester went for five fourth downs in the game and converted none of them. The turnover on downs resulted in two short-field touchdowns for the Colonials, extending a four-point lead to 10 in the third quarter and a 10-point lead to 17 in the fourth.

“We knew that they were going to try to throw it,” PW senior linebacker and running back Tommy Hannon said of the fourth-down stops. “We tried to keep him in the pocket. We just knew the sticks and we thought come up and make the play. Other than that, just cover our guys.”

One stop stood above the others in terms of swinging the momentum of the game. Chester (10-2) got the ball to start the third quarter after a 9-play, 78-yard touchdown drive got the Clippers within 10-6 late in the first half. On 3rd-and-7 at the PW 41, Chester dropped a sure touchdown that would have given the visitors their first lead of the game. Instead, they tried a trick play on fourth down and PW’s Thomas Montemayor and Joey Foy stopped it for no gain.

The ensuing possession was a 12-play, 59-yard touchdown drive for the Colonials to take a 16-6 lead. They ran the ball 11 times, including the final 10 plays. Hannon accounted for six rushes and 22 yards, including a 4th-and-1 conversion and the touchdown from one yard away.

“The o-line did a great job all night,” PW quarterback Aiden O’Brien said. “We were able to get the blocks, get four or five yards at a time, get those long drives. That was huge. Our o-line, they’re well-conditioned. They keep going. They’re some dogs.”

“They caught us on one there,” Chang said of Chester’s third down drop. “We got away with one, but our guys were resilient… I thought our offensive line really dominated the game tonight up front. We were wearing them down I thought, getting chunks at a time. Tommy Hannon ran the ball hard, Aiden ran hard. I was very happy with that.”

Chester went for fourth down again on the next possession. After getting out of a 1st-and-38 hole, the Clippers faced a 4th-and-9 at their own 37. Foy and Zach Smith wrapped up Clippers quarterback Jalen Harris and the whistles were blown before he got the ball off for a turnover on downs.

Four plays later, Hannon was celebrating a six-yard touchdown run and 23-6 lead with 10 minutes left in the game.

The Colonials defense also had fourth-down stops when Nazye Boggs, Greg Feinberg and Foy combined for a stop in the first quarter, Seve Spruill broke up a pass in the fourth and O’Brien grabbed an interception in the fourth.

PW took a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game. Boggs finished the 11-play possession with a nine-yard run to get the scoring started.

Spruill made it 10-0 with a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Chester got within four at half when Harris found Aqeel Austin for a nine-yard touchdown with 20 seconds left before the break.

Hannon’s two touchdowns after fourth-down stops made it 23-6. Chester returned a fumble for a score to make it 23-12, but Hannon added another touchdown to put the Colonials ahead 30-12 with 3:43 left in the game.

PW will face No. 1 Upper Dublin in the semifinals next Friday.

Plymouth Whitemarsh 30, Chester 12

Chester                                                0 6 0 6 – 12

Plymouth Whitemarsh                     7 3 6 14 – 30

Scoring

First Quarter

PW – Nayze Boggs 9-yard run (Seve Spruill kick) 6:20

Second Quarter

PW – Seve Spruill 28-yard field goal 4:05

CH – Aqeel Austin 9-yard reception from Jalen Harris (kick failed) :20.4

Third Quarter

PW – Tommy Hannon 1-yard run (kick failed) 2:50

Fourth Quarter

PW – Tommy Hannon 6-yard run (Seven Spruill kick) 10:00

CH – Fumble recovered in endzone (two-point failed) 6:46

PW – Tommy Hannon 11-yard run (Seve Spruill kick) 3:43

Team Statistics

                            CH          PW

First downs         14           16

Rushes-yards     25-107   53-230

Passing yards     142         8

Total yards          249         238

Passing                 11-24-2 1-5-0

Punts                    1              2

Fumbles-Lost     1-1          2-1

Penalties-Yards 12-132   6-50

Individual Statistics

Rushing

CH: Nahree Melvin 6-26; Noble Thompson 14-72; Jalen Harris 4-(-1); Cymeer Brown 1-10.

PW: Tommy Hannon 23-122, 3 TD; Aiden O’Brien 12-7; Nazye Boggs 6-36, TD; Luke Winterbottom 8-49; Greg Feinberg 4-26.

Passing

CH: Jalen Harris 11-24-142-1-2.

PW: Aiden O’Brien 1-5-8-0-0.

Receiving

CH: Charles Thompson 2-60; Cymeer Brown 5-54; Malachi Holmes 1-10; Aqeel Austin 3-28, TD.

PW: Tommy Hannon 1-8.

Interceptions

PW: Chase Smith, Aiden O’Brien.

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