MIDDLETOWN — Marple Newtown got off to a rough start, falling behind early, losing a key player for the game and season on the first play from scrimmage, but then came on strong to defeat Penncrest 49-27, clinching a spot in the upcoming District 1 Class 5A playoffs.
Making the night even more special was the play of senior wide receiver Colin Ferry, who caught 14 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns.
Tigers head coach Chris Gicking said he wasn’t sure where his team would be seeded. “I am thinking about No. 14,” he said. “But all our records are 0-0 from here on out.”
Ferry caught passes from three different passers; quarterbacks Joe Paoletti and Brian Joslin, both sophomores who took turns under center all game.
Ferry also caught a six-yard option pass from running back and captain Marlon Weathers for a touchdown on a fourth and goal play with 1:20 left in the half.
Weathers had a big game as well, rushing 28 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns. The senior caught a 34-yard screen pass from Paoletti that went for a touchdown with zeros on the clock ending the first halft.
Gicking talked about having weapons like Weathers and Ferry to go to.
“It’s great to have two players who you know can break open a game,” said Gicking, whose team is now 5-5 and 4-5 in Central League play. “We going to need everything that have starting next week.
Paoletti had the better day of the two quarterbacks going 9 of 10 for 193 yards and a touchdown pass.
Marple Newtown lost one its best, certainly biggest lineman, senior Fotis Kotopolous, who suffered a wrist injury on the first play from scrimmage.
You could see many of Kotopolous’ teammates glancing over to the bench where he was being looked by trainers hoping the 6-0, 280-pound two-way lineman was going to return. He did not.
After the game, Gicking said the wrist was broken and Kotopolous was done for the season.
“It is a tough losing a player like Fotis,” Gicking said. “But we have gone though injuries all season and we been able to have the next guy pick it up and we will this time as well.”
Penncrest jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a three-yard run by Gee Antonelli. The Tigers then scored twice to go up 14-7. But the Lions caught a break on a tipped pass from quarterback Nicholas Benecke that landed in the hands of wide receiver Austin Hines, who raced to the end zone for a 68-yard touchdown.
The Lions got another break when Vincent Brown picked up a fumbled snap on a Marple Newtown field goal attempt and took it to the house for a 55-yard touchdown that made the score 21-19 with 4:33 left in the half.
Penncrest was led by Benecke, who completed nine passes for 186 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“There are no stats that can measure what my players did this season,” said Penncrest coach Andrew Pidgeon. “We were out-manned and out-numbered all year and these kids never gave up.”