by Jody Kessler
In their season opener the Explorers of LaSalle faced a familiar foe in North Penn. Last year they beat the Knights in the first game and also in the state semifinal, before losing in the state championship. The dominance continued Saturday for LaSalle, as they overcame a 21-10 halftime deficit to win 44-27 at Plymouth Whitemarsh in front of a huge crowd.
Quarterback Matt Magarity had a comeback of his own, as he was benched halfway through the first half. He came back to throw for 223 yards and four touchdowns. Colin Buckley was his main target, as the senior wide receiver hauled in nine catches for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
The teams played the first quarter to a scoreless tie. However on the first play of the second quarter the Knights jumped out to a lead on a two-yard scamper by Ralph Reeves. The touchdown was set up by the second of Magarity’s three interceptions. LaSalle came right back to tie the score. Running back Tim Wade, who earlier in the drive had his helmet knocked off banged his way in from five yards. Sean Coleman had a couple first down receptions to set the score up.
North Penn then started the Kyle Mayfield show. After a completion to the junior running back he ripped off a 71-yard touchdown run, that gave the Knights the lead with 9:20 to play in the first half. Casey Eidenshink had a big return on the ensuing kickoff. Chris Kane took over for Magarity at quarterback. Wade would rush for 30-yards to the one-yard line but they could not stuff it in, and settled for a Ryan Winslow field goal.
The teams then traded futile drives before North Penn scored with 11 seconds remaining on the first half clock. Quarterback Corey Ernst threw to a wideopen Dan Gevirtz for the score.
North Penn started with the ball in the second half. After a decent drive Mike Piscopo came up with the momentum shifter LaSalle was looking for, sacking Ernst and causing a fumble. However LaSalle could not take advantage. With Kane still in the game at quarterback they were forced to punt after a three and out.
But the Knights coughed the football up one more time. This time, with Magarity back in the game, the Explorers did not squander their opportunity. Magarity connected with Buckley for the first of their three touchdown connections. Winslow’s kick was blocked and the deficit was cut to 21-16. Mayfield, the shifty tailback, broke free again, this time running for 75-yards. Although Chris Rocco chased him down for a touchdown saving tackle, James Fielder punched it in on the next play for a 27-16 lead.
LaSalle really got it going then, Magarity hit Buckley with a 64-yard touchdown reception. After the LaSalle defense stifled Penn, Magarity and Buckley worked their magic again, this time Buckley being dragged down at the 20. Clearly the one-on-one coverage North Penn had on him was not working. Although Magarity threw the last of his interceptions to ruin the drive, LaSalle had the ball back deep in North Penn territory as Eisenshink returned the ball 40 yards to the ten.
It was 30-27 with 8:57 left in the fourth. After recovering another lost ball LaSalle had the ball at the 30 of Penn. They had a crucial fourth and one and they went back to the fade, Buckley catching it for his third score and a 37-27 lead with 4:11 left. All going the Explorers way now, North Penn fumbled the kickoff and the home team recovered. Wade would eventually punch it in from five yards for an insurmountable 44-27 lead with 1:29 remaining.
LaSalle continues their season next Saturday at 2 p.m. at Plymouth Whitemarsh versus Bergen Catholic, of New Jersey.
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