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Machita, Vespe help La Salle air it out against Roman Catholic in District 12-6A opener

WHITEMARSH >> Sometimes when a quarterback and receiver are on the same page, there’s nothing a defense can do to stop them.

That seemed to be the case Saturday as La Salle College High School quarterback Jack Machita found running back/receiver Brad Vespe nine times for 149 yards to lead the Explorers to a 45-7 win over Roman Catholic in the opening round of the District 12-6A playoffs.

“All week we were working quick man looks because they bring a lot of pressure and they come fast,” Volpe said. “This week in practice I knew I would get a lot of opportunities. Jack is one of my best friends and he always finds the right guy even when pressure’s in his face.”

Machita completed 14 of his 19 passing attempts and finished with a game-best 257 yards through the air. His only passing touchdown came on a 50-yard completion to Matthew Bowes that put La Salle ahead 21-0 in the second quarter.

“He’s a senior, which is great, and he works hard,” La Salle head coach John Steinmetz said. “One of our themes today was just to take what they gave us and I think he did that. He knows the offense well and he knows where to go with the ball. He’s not always flashy but he gets the job done.”

The La Salle offense put up 37 points in the win, but it was the Explores’ defense that got the scoring started.

After the offense stalled on its opening drive and punted the ball away, the Cahillites took over at their own 11. Roman quarterback Daquan Robinson fumbled the shotgun snap on the very first play, and La Salle captain Dillon Trainer scooped it up at the five and walked into the end zone untouched.

“That was my first one (touchdown) in high school,” Trainer said. “All credit to Ryan Savage for getting pressure. I was just kind of in the right place at the right time and was lucky enough to get it on like the three yard line and walk in with it. It was a nice way to get my first one.”

The La Salle defense came into Saturday’s matchup with Roman giving up just over 15 points per game, and looked every bit as good as advertised

The Explorers had their hands full with Robinson and running back Shermar Ellis but held the Roman Catholic duo to 116 combined rushing yards on 34 attempts.

“Our biggest thing as a defense is unity and we have built a mantra on the defensive side of the ball of ‘so what? now what?’” Trainer said. “Mistakes are going to happen, we didn’t play a perfect game and had some trouble bringing some guys down, but it’s about picking yourself up after something doesn’t go your way.”

La Salle fullback Timothy Mehlmann finished with a pair of one-yard touchdown runs in the first half, and the Explorers used a 31-7 halftime advantage to cruise to a win.

Jack Machita’s second favorite target was junior Justin Machita, who finished with 41 yard on two catches, including a diving 32-yard grab that got the Explorers down to the Roman one.

Jack Machita connected with five different receivers and didn’t see much time in the second half after the team got out to a big lead

After a 5-6 finish to the 2018 season, La Salle is back to playing the type of football for which its known. Next up for the Explorers is a familiar foe in nationally ranked St. Joseph’s Prep. The Hawks have ended La Salle’s season each of the past three years and topped the Explorers, 44-13, earlier this season.

“We just need to do what we know how to do,” Trainer said. “They beat the snot out of us the first time, and a lot of credit to them and the way they play football, but at the same time it’s not anything we haven’t seen before. They’re not running any trick plays or things like that. It’s just hard, downhill, smash-mouth football and it just comes down to execution and how bad we want it.”

La Salle and St. Joseph’s Prep are scheduled to play on Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Germantown Super Site.

La Salle 45, Roman Catholic 7
La Salle 14 17 7 7 — 45
Roman Catholic 0 7 0 0 — 7
Scoring
First Quarter
L — 5 yard fumble return by Dillon Trainer; 8:44
L — 1 yard run by Timothy Mehlmann; 4:36
Second Quarter
L — 50 yard pass from Jack Machita to Matthew Bowes; 9:59
L — 1 yard run by Timothy Mehlman; 6:36
RC — 5 yard run by Shermar Ellis; 3:25
L — 24 yard field goal by Jake Gandfolfo; 00:17
Third Quarter
L — 1 yard run by Jalen DeVose
Fourth Quarter
L — 16 yard pass from Alan Patruzo to Mao Howell; 1:24
Team Statistics
L RC
First Downs 21 10
Rushing yards 121 156
Passing yards 274 63
Total yards 395 219
Passing 16-22 7-14
Penalties 9- 70 4-50
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 4-2
Punts-Avg 2-23.5 2-30
Individual Statistics
RUSHING
L: Timothy Mehlmann 5-4 2 TD; Brad Vespe 5-39; Gavin Daly 6-19; Jack Machita 2-9; Jalen DeVose 1-1 1 TD; Liam Kennedy 1-5; Mao Howell 6-42; Alan Patruzo 1-1; E.J. Wentz 1-1
RC: Shermar Ellis 17-60 1 TD; Daquan Robinson 17-56; C.J. Mole 5-40.
PASSING
L: Jack Machita 14-19 257 Yards 1 TD; Gavin Daly 1-2 3 Yards; Alan Patruzo 1-1 16 Yards 1 TD
RC: Daquan Robinson 5-11 52 yards; Christian Wojnar 2-3 11 Yards
RECEIVING
L: Abdul Carter 1-3; Brad Vespe 9-149; Matthew Bowes 1-50 1 TD; Justin Machita 2-41; Liam Kennedy 1-14; Mao Howell 2-19 1 TD.

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