By ANDY EDWARDS
WEST CHESTER – Coming into Friday’s game against West Chester East as a huge favorite, Downingtown East had plenty of reasons to look past the Vikings.
The undefeated Cougars could have been looking back to last week’s emotional victory over archrival Downingtown West. They could have been looking ahead to next week’s showdown with defending National Division champion West Chester Henderson.
Until, of course, the undefeated Cougars looked to the current district standings, atop which they sat when they took the field at Harold I. Zimmerman Stadium. With a top district seed, home field advantage throughout the playoffs and, by the way, a National Division championship at their fingertips, the Cougars weren’t about to let it slip away.
Ryley Angeline rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns in the first half and the suffocating Downingtown East defense turned in a dominant performance against the overmatched Vikings as the Cougars (5-0, 9-0) clinched the National Division crown for the fourth time in five years with a 48-7 victory. Downingtown East didn’t allow a first down to a West Chester East offense without starting quarterback JonJon Roberts until three minutes remained in the first half. When the dust settled, the Cougars held the Vikings (0-6, 1-8) to 113 yards of offense, sacked replacement Pat Downey seven times, forced three turnovers and ran back a fumble for a touchdown in one of their most complete performances of the season.
“I thought they played very well,” Downingtown East head coach Mike Matta said. “I was a little worried because we played in front of a huge crowd at the Downingtown East-West game. It was so emotional, and you always worry about the let-down, and you sandwich it in between the game with Henderson, who beat us the last two years. I think our kids played to their level, which is always what you want to see. We did a lot of good things.”
Cougars quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Kozlowski on the game’s first drive, and star wideout Jay Harris managed just 10 total yards, but Downingtown’s dynamic duo was hardly needed on this night, the pair taking a seat midway through the second quarter in a game that got out of hand shortly after it began. Lauletta completed six of eight passes for 62 yards, cracking the 2,000-yard mark in the process.
Angeline carried 15 times in the first half, scoring on runs of 12, five, and 36 yards. He would have had a fourth touchdown if not for a fumble at the goal line, but even that proved fruitful for the Cougars, as offensive lineman Dan Tilghman pounced on it in the end zone to make it 21-0.
Three plays later, senior linebacker Pete Carpenter scooped up Downey’s fumble and returned it 20 yards to the house to put the Cougars up by 28 still in the opening period. Downingtown East was forced into its only punt of the game on its next possession, but Angeline polished off the next two with touchdowns, capping the first-half scoring with a 36-yard burst up the middle that made it 41-0 with four minutes left in the half.
“Our line was making some big holes,” said Angeline. “They were doing all the work.”
“It’s funny that Ryley is our third or fourth option,” Matta said of his top back. He’s really good.”
Downey had his hands full in his first career start, forced to take over for Roberts, who sat with a high ankle sprain. Downey was running for his life from the get-go, absorbing six sacks and countless big hits in a first half he’d probably like to forget. Elijah Griffin and Josh Ganzelli each brought Downey to the turf twice as the Cougars surrendered a measly 13 yards of offense in the first two quarters.
“Downingtown East,” said Vikings coach Dan Ellis, “is a really good football team.”
Downey finally picked up the Vikings’ initial first down on a meandering scramble late in the first half, but otherwise had few highlights against the district’s top team. He finished 4-for-10 for 26 yards and was picked off by Andrew Scavicchio in the Vikings’ first trip into Cougars territory. Doubling as the punter, he also saw a snap sail over his head late in the first half, setting up Downingtown East on the Vikings’ 29-yard line. Five plays later, Angeline’s second score had put the Cougars up 35-0.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the lopsided score, sophomore back Keith Connor carried eight times for 61 yards and touchdown for Downingtown East. West Chester East quarterback Andrew Murphy also took advantage of a rare chance at extended playing time, getting the Vikings on the board with a five-yard touchdown scamper with just under nine minutes to play. Murphy looked good in the pocket and out of it, completing two long passes to Nick Corialos and carrying three times for 23 yards on a long scoring drive.
“We got a lot of kids in today,” Angeline said. “We found out a couple kids can play.”
Even with the division crown in hand, the Cougars will have no shortage of motivation for next Friday’s clash with the Warriors, who won the National a year ago and have had East’s number of late. With revenge - and the top district seed- in their sights, Matta expects the Cougars to be firing on all cylinders.
“I think we have a different group this year,” he said. “We have some very good leaders emerging and a lot of things to play for. They’ve worked really hard to get where they’re at.”
Downingtown East 48, West Chester East 7
Downingtown East 28 13 7 0 -- 48
W.C. East 0 0 0 7 -- 7
DE-Kozlowski 17 pass from Lauletta (White kick)
DE-Angeline 12 run (White kick)
DE-Tilghman recovered fumble in end zone (White kick)
DE-Carpenter 20 fumble return (White kick)
DE-Angeline 5 run (White kick)
DE-Angeline 36 run (kick failed)
DE-Connor 1 run (White kick)
WCE-Murphy 5 run (Lavoie kick)
First downs 21 8
Yards rushing 292 48
Yards passing 62 65
Total yards 354 113
Passing 6-8-0 6-13-1
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-1
Penalties 3-45 2-18
Punts-Avg. 1-39.0 4-27.0
RUSHING - DE: Angeline 15-138, 3 TDs; Connor 8-61, TD; Lauletta 2-26; Lucas-Murphy 6-19; Kozlowski 1-18; Althouse 2-11; Ambrogi 4-7; Harris 1-5; Beals 1-4; Bovard 1-3. WCE: Murphy 5-26, TD; Manes 8-16; Costa 4-11; Downey 12-0; Jackson 1-(-5).
PASSING - DE: Lauletta 6-8-0, 62 yards, TD. WCE: Downey 4-10-1, 26 yards; Murphy 2-3-0, 39 yards.
RECEIVING - DE: Beals 2-30; Kozlowski 1-17, TD; Angeline 1-5; Foley 1-5; Harris 1-5. WCE: Ritrovato 3-19; Corialos 2-39; Costa 1-7.
SACKS - DE: Ganzelli 2, Griffin 2, Hearns, Smith. WCE: O’Connor, Logan .5, Peterson .5.
INTERCEPTIONS - DE: Scavicchio.