CONCORD — In its first four games, Garnet Valley made no secret of the fact that it wanted to run the football.
Friday night, things were a little different on the turf at Moe DeFrank Stadium as the unbeaten Jaguars hosted Marple Newtown in a Central League contest.
"This was the first game all season that I caught a pass,' senior tight end John McGrogan said after he and junior Zach Nelson both hauled in a pair of scoring passes from senior quarterback Christian Portale to help Garnet Valley (5-0, 4-0) to a 48-13 decision.
It sets up next week's visit from Penncrest, which will be sporting a 5-0 record when it steps on to DeFrank Stadium for a Friday night showdown.
Portale's passing numbers were an amazing 11-for-13 for 153 yards and four scores. He threw an incompletion on his first attempt, hit six in a row, then finished with five in a row after his second incompletion.
McGrogan's TD catches were during Garnet Valley's 21-0 run in the second quarter, and Nelson split his scoring receptions between the second and third stanzas, with his second turning on the mercy clock 3:07 into the second half.
"Our quarterback knows he won't have anyone on him when he's throwing,' McGrogan said. "Our offensive line is ridiculous the way they block. (Portale) made great throws. The ball was right on my chest, and there was no way I was dropping it.'
Portale didn't take long to back up his teammate's statement.
"I'm 100 percent in agreement,' he said. "No matter what the defense shows, I know the line will react to it, and I'll have time to throw. A lot of us have played together since we were 10 years old, and that's helped us.'
Mike Walsh, Shane Stabinski, Brandon Hittner, Dave Bertone and junior John DePasquale, who was making his first start, did the work up front on the Jaguars' offensive line.
They had to block only three times in Garnet Valley's first series, which ended with a Jake Irving 1-yard scoring run after Vince Razzano returned a punt 49 yards to the Marple Newtown 11.
Five plays later, Steve Palis picked off Tigers quarterback Tommy Davis and dashed 39 yards for a score, putting the home team up two touchdowns before five minutes had been played.
"I dropped into coverage,' said Palis, whose father, Steve, was a Marple Newtown assistant coach for 15 seasons. "When the quarterback threw, the ball was tipped and I reacted like in our tip drills and the next thing I knew I was in (the end zone).'
A muffed punt two minutes later set Marple Newtown up at the GV 15, and Adrian Sapnas carried for 14 yards on first down then dove over from a yard out.
Garnet Valley then put together a 14-play drive that covered 65 yards and included a 23-yard Portale-to-McGrogan completion. The same duo teamed for the touchdown on a fourth-down pass on the third play of the second quarter.
Irving dashed 22 yards with a Portale pass to set up the second McGrogan scoring reception, and a 25-yard completion to Razzano put the ball on the MN 10, from where Portale found Nelson for six points 12 seconds before halftime.
"We're usually a running team,' Nelson said. "But we work our passing game during the two-minute drill. We saw some of their tendencies and knew there were certain plays we could execute.'
McGrogan and Nelson executed for another score early in the second half, and sophomore Derrick West ran for Garnet Valley's last touchdown.
Brian Rosborough got off a 54-yard scoring dash for Marple Newtown to close out the scoring.
"We're happy to get this win and know we have to work hard to get ready for next week,' Portale said.