PHILADELHPIA — Archbishop Carroll established the run early and used it often. Delaware Valley Charter had speed on the corners, so the Patriots opted to put the ball on the ground and power it through their defensive line.
Carroll was effective, but in the end it was penalties that hurt them the most.
The proverbial "game of inches' that was played turned in favor of the Del-Val Warriors in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, seizing and holding a one-point-lead over the visiting Patriots, 20-13.
Last week in a game against Monsignor Bonner/Archbishop Prendergast, Carroll junior quarter Sean McMorran threw five interceptions in the loss, but this week it was all about the run. With 38 plays on the ground and 13 in the air, only two of which were completions, running backs Shawn Springs and Austin Tilghman carrying much of the load.
"Our goal coming in was to run the ball — power-game — because we knew we were bigger up front,' said Springs, who had 10 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown. "Unfortunately, these guys were a little quicker. They're a very good football team.'
Carroll struck first. After starting with a three-and-out, the Patriots defense got a goal-line stop to take over possession on the eight-yard-line. Using eight plays, capped by a 24-yard touchdown run by Springs, the Patriots took a 7-0 lead with 4:40 left in the first.
"We got the ball in [Shawn's] hands and he did some fantastic things for us,' said Carroll coach Joe Powell. "He tried to put the whole team on his back and he almost did.'
To end the first half, the Warriors battled back with a running attack of their own. A 13-play, 80-yard drive that ate up 8:02 on the clock gave Del-Val a lead with the two-point conversion before the end of the second quarter.
It wasn't easy, however.
On a fourth-and-27, Warrior quarterback William Turner rolled out of the pocket and hit Nate Barnes on a 27-yard touchdown catch, and Turner proceeded to dart into the endzone for two points to take the lead.
"It hurts, because a lot of our defensive players play offense,' Powell said. "We came in with the gameplan of ' let's move the chains' and keep their offense off the field, so that put us in a pickle at the end of the first half.'
However, the worst wasn't over for Carroll.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Turner hit Jahmir Nuble on a 62-yard touchdown catch to put Del-Val over Carroll 14-7. Two plays into the Patriots drive and quarterback McMorran got tackled by three Del-Val defenders and was taken out of the game with a knee sprain.
"I tried cutting back and I got side-swiped on my knee,' McMorran said. "After that they kept coming after my knee so I couldn't [continue.]'
In his place came sophomore QB Nick Downey, who on his first pass play threw and interception to the Warrior's Elijah McCant.
With less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, Springs came to the rescue on both sides of the ball. First, a fumble recovery after Turner had gained 24-yards on a run, and on the very next play a 74-yard touchdown catch to make the score 14-13.
Carroll went for the two-point conversion to take the outright lead and missed.
"I keep telling the guys not to be satisfied and keep looking forward,' Springs said. "Unfortunately we didn't come out with a win, but we have a lot to work on.'
Downey settled in during the Patriots last breath — a two-minute drill with no timeouts, down 14-13 in the fourth quarter. Stuck deep in his own territory, Downey was intercepted again for a pick-six with less than a minute remain to put a dagger in Carroll's late game heroics.
Carroll will face Penn Wood next Friday night at home.