CALN — Trying to move the football on the Coatesville High School defense is a little like trying to eat soup with a fork. Pure frustration. Friday night, Coatesville limited Downingtown East to just 205 totals yards, recorded eight quarterback sacks — four by defensive end Amir Ealey — and punched its ticket to the District 1 Class AAAA title game with an emphatic 31-12 victory.
The triumph sets up a district title game with the top-seeded Red Raiders against No. 2 Pennsbury, a 25-14 winner over Upper Dublin, next Friday at Souderton High School.
Coatesville (13-0) got big games from Ealey, Stephen Pawling, Ricky Southcott and Nick Tucci, who was in on many tackles, recorded a sack and recovered a fumble.
“We have the best defense and the best coaches in the area,’ Tucci said. “A lot of people doubted us but we just band together as a family and come out and play Coatesville football. We made some turnovers early in the game, but we just got back together and played like a family. It is great that this team is playing for a district championship.’
After an early Drew Brennan field goal for the Cougars, Coatesville took a 7-3 lead in the first period when Jalen Hudson scored on a 44-yard run around the right side. Hudson totaled 176 yards rushing with two touchdowns. Hudson had missed the first meeting between the teams with an injury and was a big force for the Red Raiders on Friday night.
Downingtown East (9-4) came right back. Cary Angeline brought in a terrific 66-yard catch to bring the ball to the Coatesville two-yard line. The Red Raiders stiffened and forced a fourth-and-goal from the two. Keith Conner bulled in from the left side to take a 10-7 lead.
Then, the Coatesville defense took over. Ealey sacked quarterback Andrew Hudson for a big loss, forcing a fumble that the Red Raiders recovered on the Downingtown East 35. On the very next play, Jordan Young found a wide open Keenan Coleman for a 35-yard TD pass to go up 13-10. Young was 12 of 20 for 171 yards and two scores.
“We made some mistakes, but our defense did not give anything up and our offense got rolling,’ Young said.
After stopping the Cougars and forcing a Drew Brennan punt, one of eight for the Cougars, Coatesville nearly scored again. After big runs from Hudson and Young, Hudson ripped off a 32- harder but fumbled as he tried to dive into the end zone. The ball went out of the end zone for a Downingtown East touchback.
But the Cougars could not muster enough offense to get across midfield and punted away the ball again. This time, Coatesville took over at its own seven. Young pitched the ball to Hudson, who lost the handle. Hudson recovered, but was tackled in the end zone for a safety. Coatesville led 13-12 at half, despite the mistakes.
“We talked about it at halftime and said even with the mistakes, we were still up by a point,’ Coatesville head coach Matt Ortega said. “We just figured we got that out of the way and these kids are feeding off the defense and Jalen Hudson and Jordan Young are taking up to a higher level.’
After a scoreless third quarter which featured three more sacks by the Coatesville defense, they broke the game open in the fourth, outscoring the Cougars, 18-0. They have a 46-7 margin in the second half in its last two games.
Young took off up the middle oon a keeper for a 15-yard scoring run, while Hudson went 33 yards untouched for a 25-12 lead. Saunders Healy, who came in for Hudson, had his first pass intercepted by Ahkeema Evans, who returned it 33 yards for the final score.
Coatesville advanced two its second Class AAAA District 1 title game in three years, winning the crown in 2012.
“We always felt we were in control of the game,’ Young said. “We just made some mistakes on offense, but the defense picked us up. At halftime, we wanted to do some good things on offense in the second half.’
Downingtown East had a good run in the playoffs reaching the semifinal.
“We just could not move the ball enough,’ Downingtown East coach Mike Matta said. “They are a real good team. Our one score came on a great catch by Cary, but after that, their defense took over. They outplayed and out coached us tonight. But, I am real proud of my kids and all they gave this season.’