LOWER MERION — The moment Tom Perpiglia had waited for this season finally came just in time.
Marple Newtown's senior return man said it's been frustrating waiting to get a good opportunity to run a kick back for a touchdown, especially since most teams squib the ball. He finally got a chance Saturday, returning the ball 80 yards on the opening kickoff of the game to jumpstart a 35-6 Tigers win on the road against Lower Merion.
"I've just been waiting for that deep kick, and I finally got it,' he said. "I saw the wall, hit the seam and took it deep.'
It was a good way for Marple Newtown (3-7, 3-6 Central) to start with momentum in an effort to snap a three-game losing streak. Adrian Sapnas helped pace the offense with 151 yards and two touchdowns on nine rushes, scoring from 21 and 45 yards out. Abel Hoff shared the running load, earning 87 yards on 11 runs, including a 4-yard score. Using nine rushers, the Tigers ran 40 times for 316 yards on the afternoon.
"It's always good to end the season on a win,' coach Ray Gionta said. "Good way to send the seniors out, a positive day for them and for the rest of the team. For the younger guys, it's something to build on for next year.'
Sapnas transferred into Marple Newtown late, missing the first three games of the season. Since then he's been a featured back for the Tigers. Gionta was happy with how quickly the junior picked up the offense and defense and was able to contribute, saying he's just one of the important pieces returning to a Tigers team that had many juniors and sophomores receive significant playing time.
"Next year, we'll be a veteran team,' he said.
Lower Merion (0-9, 0-8) finally scored in the waning minutes of the game when Ari Wilen rushed in from five yards out, finishing the day with 76 yards on 12 carries.
It was one of the only bright spots in a game that featured a nasty injury to one of the Aces. Sophomore lineman Ryan McConnell suffered an apparent broken leg blocking on a running play. His left leg was at an awkward angle and many of his teammates turned away and shielded their view as he was on the ground waiting for medical assistance.
It took more than 20 minutes to get him off the field, but he gave a thumbs up to the crowd as he rolled off on the stretcher. Coach Dana Keith said surgery is a possibility.
As for the Aces, they have one game left to avoid their second consecutive winless season when they face rival Radnor next Saturday. It might not mean a whole lot in the standings, but the 116th installment of one of the nation's oldest rivalries will definitely mean something to the folks both in the stands and on the sidelines.
"The beautiful thing about playing Radnor is you have something to play for regardless of what our record is,' Keith said. "Regardless of what the situation is, we always have something to play for.'