By: James Williamson
DREXIL HILL, PA –It’s fourth down with less than 50 seconds remaining in regulation. Bonner-Prendergast is set up on the Roman Catholic eight-yard line after failing to net positive yardage on the previous two plays. Roman holds a single-point lead and if Bonner fails to score, it’s game.
Friar’s quarterback, Shane Mulholland, is lined up in the shotgun. Running back, Mason Peterson, goes in motion with the defense following close behind. This leaves tight end David Washington one-on-one with a Cahillite safety.
The ball is snapped.
Mulholland drops back.
He throws a wobbling pass high and into the back of the end zone. Washington leaps into the air to secure the ball and taps his toes before falling out of bounds to score the go-ahead touchdown. Bonner takes the 12-7 lead with less than a minute remaining to win the game.
This play was the culmination of a tightly contested match-up between the Friars and the Cahillites. A match-up in which defense reigned supreme, while offenses tried to take advantage of any opportunity they could find. In the end, the winner came down to whoever could score last.
“That is a real gutsy, gritty win by our team. We had both our tackles go down, we shifted our offensive line and kids kind of dug in” said Bonner-Prendergast head coach Jack Muldoon. “So I'm just very proud. You know, 2-0 is 2-0. We're in a good spot. So I'm very, very proud of all of our guys.”
“That was a great game, great team win. Everybody played their hearts out, slugging it out to the end,” said Mulholland. “I mean, it was closer than we wanted to be, but we gutted it out and ended up winning.”
Despite the dramatic finish, the game got off to a very slow start as Bonner and Roman spent most of the first quarter exchanging three-and-outs. Both teams remained scoreless until about half way through the second quarter when Mulholland was able to find Washington in the corner of the end zone to put the Friars up 6-0. Washington finished the day with five catches for 51 yards and both of Bonner’s touchdowns, accounting for nearly all of Bonner’s receiving production in the afternoon.
“David Washington came up big today,” said Muldoon. “He's really talented and he's only going to get better. That's one thing this team's going to do, get better.”
The first half would end with an interception by Roman Catholic, setting them up on their own seven-yard line, followed by two tackles-for-loss from the Friars killing what little time was left on the clock.
The second half picked up where the first left off with both teams exchanging interceptions. After successfully picking up a first down following a Bonner punt, Roman quarterback, Jon Ingram, rolled to his right and tried to squeeze a tight window throw to a receiver on the boundary, but a Friar corner out-muscled the receiver and stole the interception. On the ensuing play, Mulholland dropped back and tried to air one out along the left sideline, but put a little too much on it, overshooting his receiver and placing the ball in the waiting hands of the defense. While Bonner failed to capitalize on the turnover, the same could not be said for Roman Catholic.
After getting stopped on their first two downs, Ingram dropped back on third and long and found wide receiver, Tyseer Denmark along the left sideline for a 25-yard gain. Two plays later, running back, Mao Howell took the handoff about 30-yards and into the end zone, putting Roman Catholic up 7-6.
Bonner managed to string a quality drive together on their following possession, but they failed to convert on fourth-down deep inside Roman territory, giving the Cahillites the ball on their own seven-yard line half-way through the fourth quarter. It was looking like the game was Roman’s to lose, but then the Friar’s defense forced a punt that kept them alive in the game. On an afternoon that saw Bonner’s defense make play after play, forcing Roman to punt may have been the biggest play of the day.
“The defense, they played great,” said Peterson. “The defense played fast, aggressive, all that. They knew they had to get stops for the team because offenses in the beginning of the season take kind of a little bit longer to click. So they knew that they had to play a big game.”
“Our defense is really good,” said Muldoon. “I mean, we gave up seven points last week and seven this week. I feel like our defense will keep us in every game. It's a really good group of kids.”
Bonner picked up the crucial stop, but they still needed a big play to get into scoring range. Time was of the essence, but Peterson was unfazed. He had put the team on his back play after play throughout the afternoon and he was ready to do it again on the punt return.
“So when I caught it, I'm looking at (the punter) at the same time because the whole game I had to call fair catches because the gunners were coming deep. But the type of punt, it was kind of like a line drive straight to me,” said Peterson. “So it got here. It got to me faster. So I caught it, observed the field real quick. I knew what to do after that.”
On what was probably the most clutch play of the game, Peterson delivered a huge punt return putting Bonner on the Roman 20-yard line, leaving them right on the cusp of scoring. Seven plays later, Mulholand found Washington in the back of the end zone for the game-winning score.
“I mean, that (punt return) set up that touchdown,” said Mulholland. “That drive is a lot harder without the punt return by (Peterson).”
“I was kind of happy we had the opportunity to go down the field after they scored against us. I felt the poise was there,” said Muldoon. “And that's what I talk to them about, our composure by our older guys. We have a very young team. We only have twelve seniors, we have sixty eight kids on my team, and the majority of them are young guys. So the older guys have to kind of step up and they did.”
With this win, Bonner-Prendergast moves to 2-0 and they will begin preparations for their next match up against Delaware Military Academy.
“We got (Delaware Military Academy) next,” said Peterson. “I never played them before, so we don't know what to expect. So I guess their film will come out this week. We're going to study them, we're going to prepare for them and have a hard week of practice.”
Rushing: 40 attempts, 159 yards
Passing: 6-12, 59 yards
Total Offense: 52 plays, 218 total yards
Mason Peterson: 33 carries, 126 yards
Shane Mullholand: 6-12, 59 yards, two passing TDs
David Washington: 5 receptions, 51 yards, two touchdowns
Rushing: 20 attempts, 89 yards
Passing: 10-17, 69 yards
Total Offense: 37 plays, 158 total yards
Jon Ingram: 10-17, 69 yards
Mao Howell: 5 carries, 38 yards, rushing TD
Tyseer Denmark: 5 receptions, 63 yards