LOWER MERION — Mike Fleagle had just one catch Friday night, but it was a big one.
On third-and-8 in the third quarter, junior quarterback Brian Allen found Fleagle flying down the sideline and completed a pass for a 90-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach and secure a spot for Springfield in the PIAA Class AAA playoffs with a 26-6 win over Harriton.
"I'm excited for the kids. I put the challenge out to them,' coach Tom Kline said. "I said ' this team is not going to lay down for you tonight.' They came out and gave us all they had, and our kids rose to the occasion, got what they needed to do tonight, did what they needed to do tonight.'
Springfield looked to be in trouble early, though. On the first drive of the game, Harriton moved the ball 59 yards on seven plays to take a 6-0 lead via an Andre Pendleton score. Unfortunately for the Rams, that would be their only points of the game.
The Cougars did a good job containing Harriton, especially when it came to the running game.
"They have a lot of really athletic weapons on that team,' Kline said. "And it scared me all week. Our kids took their punch on the first drive and then really showed heart tonight.'
They also showed that they could contain Pendleton to just 49 yards on 13 carries.
"I don't think we came out mentally focused right away,' said junior linebacker Adam Krauter, who Kline called the best defensive player in the county. "And once that happened we all buckled down, tightened everything up and just played how we knew how to play.'
Leading the way for the Cougars on the offensive side of the ball was junior running back Collin Braconnier. He ran for a game-high 145 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown.
"Once we started clicking, we really shoved the ball down their throat,' Braconnier said. "We took some deep shots and succeeded with them. We had the line block great, huge holes. It wasn't our best game, but it was still a good performance.'
Springfield's leading rusher isn't yet satisfied. He knows that getting to the playoffs was only the first step.
"We have a goal and we're going to chase it,' he said. "And it's all about how we show up. We can't come out flat or anything.'
At quarterback, Allen knows what's at stake going forward, and although it's his first year as starting quarterback — he spent last season playing safety at Interboro — he believes he's ready.
"It's an honor,' he said. "For everyone to look at me as a leader, and for me to be able to take that role and to take that pressure, it's an honor. I'm happy I'm the one that's doing it.'
Allen went 4-for-5 passing with 140 yards, including the 90-yard touchdown and two rushing touchdowns.