Friday, November 2, 2012
Conestoga seniors go out with a win
TREDYFFRIN - One week after a tough loss to Haverford that spoiled any district playoff hopes the Conestoga High School football team may have had, there was nothing on the line for the Pioneers on Friday during their season finale. They were simply playing for pride, and for the soon-to-be-departing seniors on the roster it was one last chance to put on the pads.
Conestoga’s 21 seniors went out winners, as they scored a 34-14 Central League victory over visiting Upper Darby at Teamer Field behind a potent passing attack and a terrific defensive effort.
The Pioneers (5-4 Central, 6-4 overall) forced five turnovers on a cold night, and registered six sacks.
Offensively, Harvard-bound senior quarterback Joe Viviano threw for 242 yards and four touchdown passes. Senior receiver Andrew DeStefano, meanwhile, also had a big evening as he caught eight balls for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
“It’s a bittersweet way to go out,” said DeStefano. “On one hand I love going out with a win -- that’s a great thing. But the fact that this is the last game I’ll ever get to play in my life with these guys -- it’s pretty sad.”
It was definitely an emotional finale for the Pioneers, as their coaches spent 30 minutes talking to them on the field following the contest.
“This night was all about the seniors,” said Conestoga coach John Vogan. “What an outstanding group of young men, and we are going to miss them.”
The game was extremely tight throughout the first half, until the final minute that is, when the Pioneers completely busted it open.
First, they took a 14-7 lead with 57 seconds left in the second quarter when Viviano eluded a sack, scrambled out, and found Martin Dorsey for a 21-yard touchdown pass.
Things got worse from there for Upper Darby (3-5, 3-7). On their ensuing possession beginning at the 20-yard line, the Royals ran up the middle for 1 yard on first down. They then stopped the clock with a timeout. On the next play, quarterback Nii Kotei Nikoi was intercepted by Brendan Caine, who proceeded to return the pick 45 yards for a backbreaking touchdown to make it 21-7.
The two scores in 23 seconds completed changed what had been a tight battle up until that point.
“That’s basically been the story of our season,” said Upper Darby coach Rich Gentile. “We have constantly shot ourselves in the foot.
“People are going to look at the score of this game and think we got blown out, but it was closer than that. We helped Conestoga out a lot tonight.”
Conestoga took a 27-7 lead with 6:07 left in the third quarter on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Viviano to Riley Pritchett.
The Royals pulled to within 27-14 with 2:31 to go in the third on a 5-yard run by Quadee Taylor, who was phenomenal on the night. Taylor was basically the Upper Darby offense, finishing with 32 carries for 168 yards and both touchdowns.
Conestoga iced the game early in the fourth quarter when DeStefano caught his second touchdown of the game, this time a 16-yard scoring strike from Viviano. DeStefano finished the season with 76 catches for 1,004 yards and 13 touchdowns. Viviano ended the year with 1,768 yards, 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
The Pioneers’ defense got a big game from nose guard M.J. Moses, who had three sacks. Pritchett had a sack and interception to go along with his touchdown catch.
“This was a great team win,” said Vogan. “These guys were a frustrated group after last week’s loss. They had a difficult week with the hurricane and not being able to practice much. They came out and played great, and that’s a credit to these seniors and their leadership.”
Upper Darby 14
Upper Darby 0 7 7 0 -- 14
Conestoga 7 14 6 7 -- 34
C-DeStefano 4 pass from Viviano (Toroni kick)
UD-Taylor 3 run (Rucci kick)
C-Dorsey 21 pass from Viviano (Toroni kick)
C-Caine 45 interception return (Toroni kick)
C-Pritchett 41 pass from Viviano (Kick failed)
UD-Taylor 5 run (Rucci kick)
C-DeStefano 16 pass from Viviano (Toroni kick)
First downs 13 7
Yards rushing 164 46
Yards passing 54 242
Total yards 218 288
Passing 5-10-2 11-22-0
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 3-2
Penalties 2-30 7-60
Punts-Avg. 2-24.5 3-25.6
RUSHING - Upper Darby: Taylor 32-168, 2TDs; Bowden 1-4; Rucci 1-0; Kaba 1-(-1); Nikoi 11-(-7). Conestoga: Burton 21-56; Cook 1-2; Caine 1-(-1); Viviano 6-(-11).
PASSING - Upper Darby: Nikoi 5-10, 54 yds, 2INTs. Conestoga: Viviano 11-22, 242 yds, 4TDs.
RECEIVING - Upper Darby: Pendergra 2-23; White 1-12; Taylor 1-10; Venditti 1-9. Conestoga: DeStefano 8-119, 2TDs; Pritchett 2-70, TD; Prestipino 1-24; Dorsey 1-21, TD.
SACKS - Upper Darby: Venditti, Samphel, Richardson. Conestoga: Moses 3, Prestipino, Pritchett, Eaton.
INTERCEPTIONS - Upper Darby: none. Conestoga: Caine, Pritchett.