POTTSTOWN — There was plenty of everything in the three-hour football marathon between Hill School and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Saturday afternoon.
That included 40 total first downs, over 900 yards of offense, 49 passing attempts and 18 penalties.
But while the Rams wound up ahead in many of those statistical categories, SCHA came out on top in the one that really counted - big plays when the game was on the line - in a 35-25 win at Dell Field.
Kyle Lawlor ran for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give the visiting Blue Devils (4-1) their first lead of the day and then caught a scoring pass a couple of minutes later to put his team ahead again and for good in the hard-played non-league contest.
Matt Foltz threw for 351 yards for The Hill School (0-3), including six completions to Grant Smith for 145 yards, but was intercepted three times. Paul Dooley passed for 214 yards for the winners, who scored on a third-down play and a pair of fourth-down plays in the final quarter. Owen McAdoo pulled in 10 of the tosses for a total of 157 yards.
"Our guys need to learn how to make game-winning plays when it's crunch time,' said Hill coach Grey Simpson.
"We came through on third and fourth down when we had to,' said Lawlor, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior, who ran for 120 yards on 18 attempts. "We had some gut checks in that game.'
The Rams had the better of the play for most of the first half as Foltz (15-for-23 passing, 11 carries for 75 yards) ran in from eight yards out with 3:19 left in the first quarter and threw a 40-yard scoring strike to Smith with 2:51 to go until the half for a 12-0 advantage.
But the Blue Devils put together an 80-yard march right before the half, with Dooley (15-for-25 passing, 19 carries for 58 yards) flipping a six-yard pass to McAdoo in the end zone with two seconds left before the break, cutting the margin to 12-7.
That score might have also had a psychological effect on the Rams, according to Simpson.
"Part of it is, we need to be more confident in what we do,' he said. "They did absolutely nothing for the whole first half. But they got that late score and we started playing cautious and playing not to lose.'
Still, the hosts added to their lead on the first possession of the second half as they drove 80 yards, the last six on a run by Trey Humes (18 carries for 85 yards), for an 18-7 lead with 8:33 left in the third quarter.
SCHA came back with a seven-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion pass by Dooley midway through the quarter. Then the tide began to turn after the Rams advanced to a 3rd-and-goal play at the four yard line.
Jeffrey Mikalonis-Lieberman intercepted a Foltz pass in the end zone and returned it all the way to the 47, the Blue Devils drove to a 3rd-and 10 at the Hill 18, and Lawlor scored from there on a draw play for a 22-18 lead with 9:31 to go in the game.
The Rams regained the lead on just one play when the 6-foot-6 Foltz lobbed a pass over the middle to Brandt Beck, who outran the defense for a 77-yard scoring play and a 25-22 advantage with 9:11 remaining.
But that lead didn't last long when Lawlor caught a 29-yard TD pass from Dooley on a 4th-and-10 play to cap a drive of 67 yards over just 1:41.
"They were keying on no. 3, Dylan Parson, the whole game,' said Lawlor. "That left me wide open and they were keying on no. 81 (McAdoo), who had a monster game. As long as I can help the team out.'
The Rams were still within range at that point at 28-25, but Dooley intercepted a pass and the Blue Devils boosted the lead to 10 points on a 19-yard pass from Dooley to Parson and clinched it on a fumble recovery with four minutes to go.
Lawlor thought that his team came together at halftime.
"Just at halftime, we got our bearing together,' he said. "We just came together as a team and started doing what we've done all year. We've got some young guys who are immature, but that comes with age.'
The Rams finished with a 512-391 edge in total yards, but were killed by their mistakes at crucial moments.
"You've got to make game-winning plays,' Simpson added. "That's three years in a row we've started out 0-3. We only had one of four conversions on our extra points. We had four turnovers and five or six 15-yard personal foul penalties. We're not that good yet that we can overcome those kinds of mistakes.'