CONCORD - Despite the calm, seasonable Friday night, the West Chester Henderson football team was caught in a storm of turnovers.
Things just seemed to pile up on Henderson at Jack Pearson Stadium in the semifinal round of the District 1 Class AAA playoffs. The Warriors turned the football over seven times -- four lost fumbles and three interceptions to go along with witnessing Glen Mills running back Shaheen Dow puncture the defense for 234 yards as the Battlin' Bulls ended Henderson's season with a convincing 34-13 triumph.
Dow did it all for the second-seeded Bulls (9-3) as he picked off two Matt Dinacci passes, scooped up a fumble and ran 91 yards for the game's opening score. Dow also rushed for three touchdowns while carrying the ball 26 times against a weary Henderson defense.
"Not only is Shaheen a special back, he is a very special young man,' Glen Mills head coach Kevin Owens said. "He does whatever you ask of him, he works hard in practice and he does it out on the field. He went through some tough times early in the season, but he has come back and worked hard and all he cares about is Glen Mills football.'
After a scoreless first quarter, the turnover fest started to affect the third-seeded Warriors early in the second. Henderson (7-5) went on a 13-play drive that started at its own 20. The Warriors marched down the field behind the running of Garrett Girafalco, who rushed for 175 yards on the night.
But on the 13th play of the drive with the ball at the Bulls nine-yard line, a Dinacci pitch to Noah Richard went awry. Dow scooped up the ball and ran 91 yards untouched to the end zone to give Glen Mills a 7-0 lead barely two minutes into the quarter.
"I saw the ball hit the ground and I was off,' Dow said. "Nobody was catching me when I got that ball.'
Henderson came right back, however, going on another long drive. This time they cashed in as Dinacci took it in from a yard out. A Glen Mills penalty on the point after put the ball at the one. Henderson elected to go for two points, but Girafalco was stopped and the lead was cut to 7-6.
Glen Mills widened the lead on a 24-yard scamper by Dow to make it 14-6.
The game got sloppy with turnovers on three straight possessions. First, Nick Rizzo fumbled the kickoff in his own end, then Dow put it on the ground two plays. But Henderson gave the ball right back as Dinacci was interecepted by Dow. This time, Dow held onto the ball and scored on a 14-yard run for a 20-6 halftime advantage to put the Warriors in deep trouble.
"We had a couple games this season that we turned the ball over,' Dinacci said. "The Rustin game we gave the ball away and tonight it happened to us again. It is so deflating when you turn the ball over. It is tough to come back from.'
Glen Mills took the second-half kickoff, but the Henderson defense forced a three-and-out. Henderson went to work on its 24. Six straight running plays by Girafalco and Tre Green moved the ball to the Glen Mills side of the field, but a errant pitch led to another turnover and the Bulls took over.
Once again, the Warriors forced a three-and-out. This time, Henderson put points on the board as Girafalco broke a couple of tackles and powered 35 yards to score to trail 20-13 game late in the third.
But Dow was the star of the night, and on a third-and-goal from the 15 -- after a Dow TD was called back on a holding penalty -- he broke free again for 14 yards to the one. On fourth down, quarterback Dontae Coates snuck in to build the lead to 27-13 with 10:17 to play.
Henderson's turnover bug continued and when Dinacci's pass was picked off by Dow, his second of the night, the game was effectively over.
Dow put the icing on the cake, going 29 yards for the final score and the DelVal League champs punched their ticket to the District 1 Class AAA title game next Friday against league rival Academy Park.
"We practice all the time on stripping the football, hitting people hard and going for the interceptions,' Owens said. "We do whatever it takes on defense to get the football.'
After forcing eight turnovers against Springfield (Delco) last week, the seven turnovers against the Warriors gave the Bulls 15 takeaways in two playoff games.
"They had eight turnovers last week and again tonight they take the football away,' Henderson coach Steve Mitten said. "I will have to look at the tape to see if they forced all the turnovers or we lost the football. And Dow ran through a lot of tackles and made a lot of yards by himself.'
Glen Mills 34
West Chester Henderson 13
W.C. Henderson 0 6 7 0-13
Glen Mills 0 20 0 14-34
GM-Dow 91 fumble recovery (Bartlof kick)
WCH-Dinacci 1 run (run failed)
GM-Dow 24 run (Bartlof kick)
GM-Dow 14 run (kick failed)
WCH-Girafalco 35 run (Thompson kick)
GM-Coates 1 run (Bartlof kick)
GM-Dow 29 run (Bartlof kick)
First downs 16 14
Yards rushing 289 267
Yards passing 59 0
Total yards 348 267
Passing 4-11-3 0-5-0
Fumbles-lost 5-3 1-1
Punts-avg. 0-0 3-33.5
Penalties-yds 3-15 8-47
Rushing: H: Girafalco 28-175 TD; Dinacci 8-47 TD; Green 9-54; Richard 3-13. GM: Dow 26-234 3TDs; Riddick 3-16; Pearsall 2-16; Coates 2-4 TD; Fields 5-(-3).
Passing: H: Dinacci 3-9-3 16 yards; Richard 1-1-0 43 yards; Logan 0-1-0. GM: Coates 0-5-0.
Receving: H: Greene 2-45; Rizzo 1-14; Richard 1-0. GM: None.
Sacks: H: None. GM: Geary.
Interceptions: H: None. GM: Freeman, Dow 2.