MIDDLETOWN — There was a scouting report, and there was a game-plan emphasis, and when the Penncrest High football team lined up Friday, there was something about the Marple Newtown defense that told quarterback Danny Fisher the time was right to go to the big-play offense.
And there was also wide receiver LaVaughn Frame.
"He is,' Fisher said, "the man.'
So there was that, too.
In breaking open a Central League game otherwise laced with balance, Fisher and Frame connected for touchdown plays of 75 and 54 yards in a 41-14 victory that helped to reboot the Lions' recently diminished longest-term plans. Two games after a defeat at Garnet Valley that could have been a demoralizing, the Lions improved to 7-1 overall, 6-1 in the Central, with all things remaining possible.
High among the reasons was their impressive offensive impatience, as they rejected any inch-by-inch return to relevance and instead went long ... then longer. In addition to Frame's 129 yards worth of touchdowns, tight end John George caught a 38-yard touchdown pass and Rashad Johnson ran 77 yards for a TD. Not that Penncrest was determined to go to the knockout punch, but Justin Battips' 24-yard touchdown run was its shortest of the night.
Almost in the spirit of the impromptu cross country event, Marple Newtown's Adrian Sapnas included a 74-yard distance-job TD in his 142-yard, two-score rushing night.
"Tonight, we played really well,' Penncrest coach Rick Stroup said. "This was the first game where we got really big plays, three or four of them. We haven't had a lot of big plays in a game all season.'
After stumbling two weeks ago in what was a match of undefeated teams at Garnet Valley, Penncrest recovered with a 30-7 victory over Radnor, then had a 41-7 lead Friday before Sapnas' second touchdown, a three-yard chug with 2:36 left.
So it wasn't just that the Lions would salvage a season after the Garnet Valley snafu, but that they would quickly reestablish just about all of their image.
"I coached at Garnet Valley for 11 years,' Stroup said. "They have a good program. They have 45 seniors. We have 43 kids on our team. So we are trying to get better all the time.'
Fisher, a 6-2 junior whom legend is already saying has run a 4.6 40, was too much for the Tigers Friday, passing for 193 yards and three touchdowns, and plowing one yard for a third. Frame had three catches for 140 yards --- and also unfurled a 53-yard punt.
"We have been working harder in practice and paying attention to detail,' Frame said. "Tonight, I just took advantage of their corners and the way they were playing.'
The Tigers (2-4, 2-6) scored first, Sapnas making the 74-yard deposit to his 142-yard rushing night with 6:20 left in the first. But M-N was just too prone to the long play, even the semi-broken variety, like Johnson's third-quarter breakaway that at first seemed to be blunted at the line.
"We made some plays on offense and defense,' Tigers coach Ray Gionta said. "We ran the ball good against Ridley last week, and we ran the ball fairly well tonight. We had a 10th grader (Marcus Weathers) in there at quarterback, and he's developing, too.
"They are a veteran football team. Tonight, they played a nice game.'
In staying close in the Central League race, and in strengthening their planned run to the postseason, the Lions might not have been able to play much better.
"No,' Fisher said. "We can play a lot better than we did tonight.'