HADDON TWP. A few halftime adjustments and the Paul VI High School football team was off and running.
Well, maybe not actually running. But …
Matt Vitale connected with Lonnie Moore on touchdown passes of 29 and 17 yards and John Santini led a dominating defensive effort as the Eagles, No. 7 in the Courier-Post Mean 15, defeated visiting Cherry Hill West 23-6 Friday night in a West Jersey Football League Constitution Division matchup.
It was also the South Jersey Gridiron Gang’s Game of the Week.
“The first half … I don’t know,” Paul VI coach John Doherty said. “They ran the ball well against us and chewed up some clock. But we made an adjustment at halftime and picked up the intensity.”
With Santini, James Weathers and Kevin Fields recording 10 tackles apiece, the Eagles’ defense limited Cherry Hill West to just 54 yards of total offense in the second half. Erick Robertson had two interceptions, while Weathers scored on a 32-yard return after Santini forced a fumble with 1:06 left in the third quarter.
“We didn’t come out the way we wanted, but coach stuck with us,” Santini said. “Anything to get the win for our team.”
Said Doherty: “We have a great group of kids on defense, but (Santini is) the focal point without a doubt. He’s a leader, a true linebacker.”
Cherry Hill West (1-2) took a 6-3 halftime lead on Lorenzo Hernandez’s 1-yard TD run with 4:43 to play in the second quarter. But the second half proved to be all Eagles.
“We knew we had to come out firing,” Moore said.
Moore put the winners up to stay on the opening series of the third quarter. Vitale rolled out to his right and hit a diving Moore in the end zone for a 29-yard score to cap an eight-play, 70-yard drive.
“Any time Matt sees one-on-one coverage with a cornerback, he knows that most likely I’m going to beat the man,” said Moore, who finished with seven catches for 138 yards. “Matt has a great arm and knows how to put it right on the spot. He gives me a chance to go get it.”
Said Vitale: “We knew they were going to play man-to-man, and I knew we’d go to Lonnie a lot. I have confidence Lonnie will beat anybody. If they want to play man, I’ll go to Lonnie all day. I’ll give him a look and just chuck it up.”
The senior wide receiver then sealed the outcome with midway through the fourth.
This time, Moore found himself wide open in the corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown.
“They’ve had a bit of trouble early on connecting, but we’re working on it,” Doherty said. “They got it together in the second half and that was big for us.”
Vitale completed 11-of-24 passes for 163 yards. Chris Randle led the ground attack with 150 yards on 16 carries.
Next on the schedule for Paul VI is a WJFL interdivision game against No. 3 Delsea, which knocked off top-ranked Timber Creek on Friday.
“It’s going to be real tough,” Doherty said. “We’ll have to come out with all cylinders firing. It’s going to be a battle and we’re excited.”
Kevin Minnick; (856) 486-2424; firstname.lastname@example.org
PAUL VI 23
C.H. WEST 6
•Player of the game: Lonnie Moore had seven catches for 138 yards and two TDs.
•Play of the game: Moore’s 29-yard TD catch on the opening series of the second half.
•Well said: “We were off to a 3-0 start last year and that’s when we started losing it a little. Now we’re an older team and have to keep it going.” – Matt Vitale, Paul VI quarterback