UPPER DARBY — Roman Catholic's Dmetri Kelly didn't spend much time on the sidelines Friday evening.
But while he was on the bench briefly late in the third quarter against Bonner-Prendergast, he found time to coin a little jingle the Cahillites should play often this season.
"If you want the win, put Dmetri in.'
The evidence spoke for itself in a 41-14 thrashing of Catholic League crossover rival Bonner-Prendergast at Upper Darby High School: 29 carries, 264 yards, three touchdowns on the ground. Oh yeah, and a 22-yard interception return for a touchdown to stamp out the final hope of a Friars comeback late in the third quarter, just for good measure.
"They just can't bring me down with the arm tackles,' Kelly said. "They had to gang tackle me. The line was blocking good and it gave me the holes to run in, and I just hit the holes hard.'
There just was no stopping Kelly, who ran for scores of 1, 21 and 30 yards in the first three quarters. With the Friars showing signs of life in a fourth quarter that netted them all 14 of their points, Kelly ripped off a 56-yard run down to the two that was punched in by Pat McCourt to make it 28-7 and help Roman (1-3) get its first win of the season.
Kelly then picked off Bonner-Prendie quarterback Collin DiGalbo, and DiGalbo's third interception of the night went into the hands of John Chaney as time expired only for him to return it 80 yards to set the final margin.
Kelly's yardage total was about the only total higher than the number of tackles he broke on the night, epitomized with the 30-yard score with 1:43 left until halftime in which he emerged from a pile after what seemed like a modest game only to scramble into the end zone.
"He was fast. It was tough, I'm not going to lie,' said linebacker Anthony Marcus, who was into double-digits on tackles. "But I was able take him down when I could. He hits hard, but I hit him harder.'
Kelly's performance on the ground was in stark contrast to that of the Friars (1-3), who managed just 22 yards on 15 carries. They had minus-35 yards rushing in the first half and minus-1 net yards of offense.
Coupled with a two-touchdown deficit, the Friars came out of the break with a total rethink that resulted in DiGalbo dropping back to pass on each of the first 17 snaps of the second half.
Before the final drive, a 63-yard march on which time ran out on the Friars, they had just four rushing plays for positive yardage the entire game and no players with positive net rushing.
"We were talking about that the way we were running it, they were coming right to where we were running it,' fullback Mike Shanahan said. "So we tried switching up how we were running the play. And that didn't work either. They were just very good defensively.'
DiGalbo did his best to rally the troops, firing 41 passes. Only 15 of them found their targets to five different receivers, including six to Mike Ockimey on 15 targets. He and Ockimey connected on a 15-yard score early in the fourth quarter, then DiGalbo dumped off a one-yard score to Ockimey that briefly cut the Roman lead to 28-14 with 4:09 left.
DiGalbo was also the team's leading rusher, with eight totes for 16 net yards, including 40 while scrambling in the second half.
Kelly's day made for an easy day for Roman quarterback Brendan Regan, reinstalled as the starter after two games on the bench. He was 7-for-9 for 57 yards, needing to throw just twice after half.
The final score may look a little more palatable than it was at the end of three quarters, and it gave the Friars something to salvage from the evening.
"Every time we're down or we lose, we just look to get better,' Marcus said. "This loss, it doesn't bring us down at all. This team is different. Bonner is really different. This team is a wonderful team. Even though we lost, we get better from it and get ready for the next game.'