CONSHOHOCKEN — When standout running back Austin Tilghman made the decision to transfer from St. Andrews School in Middletown, Del., to Archbishop Carroll for his senior year, the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder wanted to play in the Philadelphia Catholic League and wanted have games like he did Friday night.
Tilghman rushed 16 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Patriots to a wild 48-26 win over Conwell-Egan at Garthwaite Field in the Catholic League AA Division opener for both teams.
"This is a whole different atmosphere here,' said Tilghman, who also recorded several tackles behind the line of scrimmage on defense. "The Catholic League, I knew what it was going to be like. It's tough here, you have to tackle and block every play hard. Today I think we stepped up to the challenge, our backs were against the wall and tonight I think we showed we are a really good team.'
Tilghman is a freight train of a running back once he gets going. During his 30-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, defender after defender took his shot trying to bring Tilghman to the ground — and he would not go down.
Tilghman said once his line gave him some daylight, he and the other running backs took care of the rest.
"All week in practice we put the emphasis on the line, that we needed blocks for us to get to the second level and that's what we did this game,' Tilghman said. "I think when you do that, with my special skills and Shawn's (Springs) special skills, we can get down field in a hurry and that's what we did.'
Springs used his speed in all phases of the game. The 5-9, 170-pound junior returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown, then caught a 22-yard touchdown pass and added 54 yards rushing on six carries including a 46-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to give Carroll a 21-7 lead it would never relinquish.
"We got some momentum, we scored the early touchdown, then Shawn picks off the ball and runs it in we took that and built on it,' head coach Joe Powel said. "We put some points on the board and that was nice. Our offensive line blocked for Austin and not one guy is not going to bring him down; they needed a couple for him. He ran the ball well — all our running backs did well tonight. Anthony Hill, Shawn Springs and Austin did their job and that was all accountable because the offensive line did their job.'
Junior quarterback Sean NcMorran connected on a 60-yard TD strike to Anthony Hill with 53 seconds left in the first half to give the Patriots a 28-14 lead at halftime.
McMorran finished 5 of 8 for 139 yards and two touchdown passes.
Conwell-Egan started the game without its starting quarterback Mike Alley, who was sidelined with an injury, and in the third quarter the Eagles lost arguably their best player when Jarratt Patman, who played quarterback and running back, suffered a leg injury and could not return. The sophomore had rushed for 31 yards on nine carries.
Conwell-Egan still managed to score 26 points. Tilghman said the defense can't think that because the opponent is missing key players, it can't play well and score points. The Eagles did a good job of that Friday night.
"With those guys missing we just wanted to challenge our guys to still go hard,' Tilghman said. "We have to play those guys like they were the starters. They had some plays we messed up on but we're going to get better in practice this week.'
Andrew Linder, with 119 yards rushing on 18 carries, and Joe Ruggiero, who carried the ball 14 times for 93 yards, led the Eagles.
Powel said he told his team to forget the 1-3 start. "We've wiped the slate clean, we're 0-0 now,' Powel said. "We have games against league opponents they next three weeks and they are playoff games.'
Powel said he can see the team, in particular his offense come together and show its talent and speed and he hopes the Patriots can make some noise come playoff time.
"I'd like to get better start peaking now at the right weeks,' Powel said. "Hopefully we can build off of this next week. We face a very good Neumann-Goretti team that is going to be hungry; hopefully we can be successful there.'