|Staff photo by Tom Kelly IV/ Downingtown West's Teddy Verano is tripped up with the ball during Friday's 6-0 win over West Chester Henderson.|
By PETER DiGIOVANNI
DOWNINGTOWN -- Old time, knock your helmet off football came to Kottmeyer Stadium on Friday night as Downingtown West and West Chester Henderson battered each other for 48 minutes of fierce football.
The two best defenses in the county lived up to their billing, keeping both teams out of the end zone. It was left up to two fourth-period Nick Caruso field goals that gave Downingtown West a 6-0 triumph in a Ches-Mont League National Division slugfest.
The teams went scoreless for the first three periods until Whippets (2-0 Ches-Mont, 5-1 overall) quarterback Nick Pagel hit Sean Sauder with a high floater on third down for a 41-yard gain down to the Henderson (2-1, 5-1) seven yard line.
“We thought we had a mismatch and I got a lot of time to throw the ball and I put my faith in Sean Sauder and I knew he would come through,” Pagel said. “All these guys are my brothers, the junior varsity guys, the reserves, everybody. We all stick together on this team.”
After the drive stalled, Caruso coolly drilled a 22-yard field goal to give the Whippets a 3-0 lead with 8:15 to play in the game.
“Nick Caruso has been with us for three years and he has worked with Rob Long, who was one of the best kickers in the state,” Downingtown West head coach Mike Milano said. “He sure hit two big ones for us tonight.”
Henderson had its chances to score, missing a 30-yard field goal in the first half, and wasting a seven-plus minute drive in the thrid that was fueled by the insdie running of Derek Matonti and Spencer Rymszewski. The Warriors drove 12 plays -- all runs -- from their own 13-yard line to the West 28 and faced a fourth-and-two from there.
James Bady went back to throw for the first down, but badly overthrew Chris Mitten to end the drive with no points.
“We had our chances, but I have to put the kids in better situations to succeed,” Henderson head coach Steve Mitten said. “Give Downingtown West credit and (defensive coordinator) John Carroll and head coach Mike Milano. They have a bunch of tough West kids and they are a first-class outfit. But, this one is on me.”
Downingtown West looked like they would take a lead early in the third when Tino Bunhu broke free for a 39-yard run. Bady knocked the ball from Bunhu’s arms and recovered at the one.
Defensive end Ian Nanni, who along with Dan Speca and Lucas McMahon, had big games for the Downingtown West defense, said the gaff just brought the team closer.
“Coach Milano tells us never to quit and when we fumbled the ball, the defense just said to go take it to them and we knew we would score.” Nanni said.
Henderson, down 6-0 after a 35-yard boot from Caruso, had a last chance to win or tie as they took the kickoff at its own 26 with 3:16 to play.
They drove to midfield with 1:41 to play behind the running of Matonti. But West came up with two big sacks from Dion Lattanzi and Nanni. The latter resulted in a Bady fumble, which the Whippets recovered to end the rumble at Kottmeyer and give West its biggest win of the year. The Whippets now move into a first-place tie in the division with crosstown rival, Downingtown East. Next week, West visits Avon Grove, while Henderson gets another tough test at W.C. Rustin.
“Our kids have sort of galvinized together because they do not get talked about like some of the other area teams,” Milano said. “We may not have a bunch of big names, but we have 61 tough Downingtown kids who give it all they have and tonight, that was pretty good.”
Downigntown West 6, W.C. Henderson 0
W.C. Henderson 0 0 0 0-0
Downingtown West 0 0 0 6-6
D-Caruso 22 FG
D-Caruso 35 FG
First downs 11 10
Yards rushing 142 147
Yards passing 34 123
Total yards 176 270
Passing 3-9-0 6-12-0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-2
Punts.avg 5-34.5 4-38.0
Penalties-yds 1-5 4-25
Rushing: Hend: Rymiszewski 16 53; Matonti 8-43; Bady 10-20; Girafalco 9-20; Green 2-10; C. Mitten 2-(-1). Down: Bunhu 16-100; Pagel 7-23; Meleski 8-15; Sauder 2-6; Speca 1-3.
Passing: Hend: Rymiszewski 3-5-0, 34 yards; Bady 0-4-0. Down: Pagel 6-12-0, 123 yards.
Receiving: Hend: Girafalco 2-10; C. Mitten 1-16. Down: Schmitt 2-47; Maleski 2-17; Sauder 1-41; Varano 1-18.
Interceptions: Hend: None. Down: None.
Sacks: Hend: Kane. Down: Maleski, Nanni, Lattanzi.
Follow Peter DiGiovanni at twitter.com/dlnsports