NEWTOWN SQUARE — Upper Darby was more than upset after dropping a turnover-riddled, heartbreaker to Glen Mills last weekend. Unfortunately for Marple Newtown, the Royals had a week to let the sting of that loss sink in.
Upper Darby unleashed an explosive offensive attack led by Cyrus Barlee (195 yards rushing) and Chris Rossiter that propelled the Royals to a dominant first half en route to a 41-0 victory over the Tigers.
The victory was a combination of the Royals' frantically paced offense and staunch defense working in cohesion and to perfection.
"It's one of the few times in the recent past where I can say we put a whole game together,' said Upper Darby coach Rich Gentile. "We turned the ball over one time at the goal line and that was much better than we did last week. If we don't turn the ball over and play other teams straight up, we're going to be in most games.
"Tonight, the defense did well and the offense exploded. I think eventually, with the offense we have, if we don't turn the ball over we're going to make plays like we did tonight. The defense was able to get us back on the field, too, so they did a good job.'
After Barlee gave the Royals an early 7-0 lead with a four-yard touchdown run, Upper Darby used a quick defensive stop to take the ball back and march right down the field. Ultimately, Barlee fumbled at the one-yard line, but all that did was give the Royals another reminder of the dangers of turnovers and motivation to not let it happen again.
"What we were stressing over most this week were turnovers,' said Rossiter, who finished the game completing three of four passes for 139 yards and also had 25 yards rushing. "We talked all week about ball security and we did a pretty good job with that tonight. It feels good to get back on a winning track.'
Rossiter scored on a one-yard run and also set up a Barlee touchdown run with a 44-yard pass to De'Andre Pendergrass for a 20-0 lead before driving a dagger straight through Marple Newtown's heart.
With just seconds remaining in the half Rossiter connected with Justin Vendetti on a bubble screen that the senior wideout hauled in and darted 75 yards for an electric Royals touchdown. In addition to Vendetti's effort, the scoring play was also a bit of redemption. Just before his score, the Vendetti was whistled for a penalty that nullified a punt return touchdown for Upper Darby.
Rossiter, who also hit Pendergrass with a scoring strike in the second half, knew Vendetti would make up for his miscue and he did so in a huge way.
"The penalty on the punt return was on (Vendetti) and we wanted to get him the ball because he was all fired up,' Rossiter said. "He did exactly what he was supposed to do and broke free. It was easy for me, but tough for him and he made a great play.'
With a 27-0 lead at halftime, Barlee knew that the Royals still had to finish strong and build momentum heading into next week's tilt versus Radnor.
"The o-line did great and the play calling was excellent tonight,' said Barlee, whose. "I just had to do what my coaches were telling me to do. Everyone knew what happened last week, so we were just trying to not turnover the ball. Our offensive is explosive and everybody came out and did what they had to do.'
Barlee, whose brother Dee is having quite a season as a sophomore running back at Episcopal Academy, finished with three touchdowns.
Defensively, Upper Darby was excellent.
"When you play a Wing-T team, the people that need to play well are the d-line and linebackers,' said Gentile, whose defense limited the Tigers to 185 yards of total offense. "They are the point guards of people blocking down and you have to be able ro read and get to holes. I think Larry Mills, Chris Gambone, and Austin Stults all played well from the linebacker spots and our secondary also played well in stopping them from throwing the ball.'
In addition to the aforementioned trio above, Nick Rotandi and Devon Vogel each had a sack and Kevin White was a stalwart in coverage for the Royals' defense.