By Al Thompson
For too much of Friday night’s nonleague matchup between host Interboro and Strath Haven, penalties, fumbles, dropped passes and poor execution low-lighted a scoreless first half and the first two series of third-quarter for both teams.
But Interboro’s punt return unit made an impact in the second half, producing two touchdowns that lifted the bucks to a 20-0 win over Strath Haven.
“It’s a win,” Interboro head coach Steve Lennox concluded. “That’s what I said to the kids at halftime, ‘stay together.’ As many mistakes as we made, the penalties – you can’t win having all those penalties – and we weren’t losing, it was nothing -nothing. So we stayed together, executed better, we made a couple big plays with our kicking game and punt returns. That was huge.”
The Bucks committed four penalties for 45 yards, two of those penalties nullified big plays. Strath Haven fumbled the ball five times in the first half alone and was lucky to only lose the ball once.
But Junior kick returner Connor Adams took a punt and raced 45 yards to the Strath Haven 20 yard line. The Panthers stuffed Lamar Shaw for a 1 yard loss on the first play, then threw Chris Thomas for a 5 yard loss only to ruin the momentum by committing a 15 yard personal foul that set up Interboro with a first down on the 12 yard line.
The next play Chris Hummel streaked into the end zone, untouched to score what turned out to be the winning touchdown.
Two-way lineman Michael McMillan talked about Hummel’s run.
“He’s fast he’s real fast,” lineman Michael McMillan said. “And we kept driving and made sure (Hummel) didn’t get touched. We had to protect him.”
In the fourth quarter Interboro’s punt return team had another big play when Hummel took a punt at the Panthers 40 yard line, then turned the corner, cruising into the end zone for the final score.
Strath Haven coach Kevin Clancy said even with the turnovers and mistakes, it was a good fight in the trenches until Interboro started coming up with the big plays.
“It was a good football game then they got the big play there in the third quarter,” Clancy said. “They got a couple of traps on us then it became tough for us. I would’ve liked to get out in front if we had a chance. We turned the ball over I don’t know how many times, but too many times to win.”
Lennox talked about how his defensive linemen were able to play against Strath Haven’s classic Wing-T offense and come up with a clean sheet.
“The Wing-T is hard to defend,” Lennox said. “You don’t see much of it anymore. You really have to be disciplined. I’m pleased our defense got a shutout. We should have had more (on offense). We had opportunities in the first half that we let slip away. Some of it was our poor execution and the penalties.”
Interboro was led by Hummel who rushed for 42 yards including a 12 yard touchdown. The senior also called both Interboro’s completions for 45 yards Hummel showed his versatility when he scored on a 40 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Strath Haven was led by a Elijah Crew who rushed for 17 times for 72 yards.
“We just try and stick together as much as we can,” MacMillan said. “That’s all you can do. If someone gets upset you pat them on the butt and tell them to keep going, keep driving.”
The Panthers junior quarterback Evan Atsaves struggled, going 1 of 11 for 35 yards and an interception.
Clancy said looks can be deceiving.
“Sometimes it looks visually like you’re talking about the quarterback play,” Clancy said. “But it’s the whole offense that needs to execute a higher level. They’re good kids, they’re working hard. We will get better. But it’s a work in progress.”
Clancy said he could see Interboro start to come alive in the second half.
“I want to get our team to execute as well as Interboro executed tonight,” Clancy said. “If we execute the way they executed will be a good football team.”
Lennox said his philosophy is simple. Follow it and you might win a title.
“We preach defense, kicking game and then offense,” Lennox said. “That’s what wins championships. Tonight I think that was evident. We had a shutout, the kicking game was great and the offense did enough to win.”