By NEIL GEOGHEGAN
WILMINGTON, Del. – We don’t yet know exactly where Downingtown East fits in among the best gridiron teams in Southeastern Pennsylvania, but on Friday the Cougars padded their resume by topping St. Mark’s, one of the best teams in the state of Delaware.
The final score was 26-21, and East made it happen largely by hurling junior halfback Ryley Angeline into the fray and winning with smash-mouth football against a big, strong, unbeaten opponent. The fact that the Cougars (6-0 overall) did it on the road, in front of a big partisan crowd, made it all the more impressive.
“It’s tough on the road and this is a quality opponent,” said East head coach Mike Matta. “This game showed we have some resiliency.”
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Angeline toted the football a career-high 34 times for 154 yards and scored two touchdowns. And most of his runs were between the tackles. The junior only had one carry of more than 12 yards, which means that the yardage was extremely hard fought.
“It was a pretty tough game,” Angeline acknowledged. “It felt like I had a lot of carries. I’m sure I will be sore (today).
“We have a good quarterback and some good receivers and opponents are usually ready for the pass. So we really wanted to run the ball.”
Standout quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw for 237 yards – including an even 100 to star wideout Jay Harris -- and added 64 more on the ground, but Angeline was the workhorse.
“Ryley didn’t have many easy yards,” Matta pointed out. “But that is the kind of team we want to be. By running it, we were able to slow them down because they were getting tired. That’s our game. We get into the weight room.”
The Cougars led this border clash of unbeatens by six at the half, but went ahead 19-7 when Harris scored his first of two TDs on a 15-yard pass from Lauletta. Harris’ second touchdown, a short run early in the fourth quarter, again put East ahead by a dozen, but the Spartans (4-1 overall) came right back with an 83-yard aerial strike, slicing the lead to 26-21 with 3:52 remaining.
“We had some blown coverages,” Matta said. “We’re not settled yet in the secondary and we’re not happy with what is going on there.”
But once the Cougars regained possession, they never gave it up. Lauletta and Harris hooked up for a 54-yarder to move into St. Mark’s territory, and that enabled East to run out the clock.
“St. Mark’s is like a District I Suburban team up front,” Matta said. “They are really good and can pound you.
“I don’t think Kyle had his greatest game but he made the clutch plays when he had to. And Ryley stepped up and carried the team a little bit so it wasn’t just all Kyle. That was nice because you can’t just rely on the quarterback to carry you every game.”
St. Mark’s opened the scoring on its first possession, and runner T.J. Brown was the story. He scored on a 13-yard run and amassed 49 yards in the drive, but managed just 41 additional yards on a dozen more carries the rest of the way.
“This game doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know,” said linebacker Mike Munnelly, who led the defense with an interception. “We know we have potential and we just have to play up to that potential.
“Back home, nobody really thinks we are a tough defense. But other than a few big plays, I thought we did pretty well.”
The Cougars bounced right back with an 11-play, 83-yard march late in the first quarter, with Angeline hauling in a seven yard pass from Lauletta for the score. East then seized the lead for good when Angeline capped off another lengthy series, bulling into the end zone from a yard out with 1:50 left in the half.
The Cougars rolled up 479 yards of offense, including a 242-149 edge on the ground. And in the second half, the East defense limited the Spartans to only 106 yards.
“Munnelly played like we think he can,” Matta said. “He was struggling a few weeks ago and it’s good to see him make some plays and not hang his head.”
Downingtown East 26, St. Mark’s (Del.) 21
Downingtown East 7 6 6 7 -- 26
St. Mark’s 7 0 7 7 -- 21
SM – Brown 13 run (Beck kick)
DE – Angeline 7 pass from Lauletta (White kick)
DE – Angeline 1 run (kick blocked)
DE – Harris 15 pass from Lauletta (pass failed)
SM – Brown 5 run (Beck kick)
DE – Harris 3 run (White kick)
SM – Schneider 83 pass from Whitehead (Beck kick)
First downs 24 13
Yards rushing 242 149
Yards passing 237 175
Total yards 479 325
Passing 16-31-1 10-20-1
Fumbles-lost 4-1 2-2
Punts-avg 2-35.5 3-36
Penalties-yds 1-5 4-30
Rushing – DE: Angeline 34-154, TD; Harris 4-21, TD; Lauletta 11-64; Beals 2-3. SM: Brown 19-90, 2 TD; Mendez 6-25; Normand 1-4; Whitehead 5-30.
Passing – DE: Lauletta 16-31-1, 237 yards, 2 TDs. SM: Whitehead 10-20-1, 175 yards, TD.
Receiving – DE: Harris 5-100, TD; Beals 5-49; Kozlowski 1-12; Angeline 2-7, TD; Chisena 1-38; Foley 2-32. SM: Mendez 2-12; Williams 1-5; Waegele 3-45; Normand 1-10; Davis 1-16; Alessandrini 1-4; Schneider 1-83, TD.
Sacks: DE: Stevenson-Panchisin,
Interceptions: DE: Munnelly. SM: Catalino.