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LITTLE QUAKERS SHOW GRIT IN TEXAS DUST-UP – CONCLUDE 63RD SEASON
Saturday, December 5, 2015
Fort Worth – Under the bright blue canopy of a made-for-Texas football day, the Philadelphia Little Quakers stared down host Fort Worth Texans at Scarborough-Handley Field. Earning hard-fought respect – but unfortunately not the win – the LQ went down swinging in a see-saw pitch that remained undetermined even as time expired. The final result, 20-16, was registered only after a defensive penalty allowed elusive QB Ricky Ortega (Coatesville) one final end zone shot that fell inches short of yeoman receiver and return-man Jabari Higgs Salaam’s grasp, just within the front end zone pylon corner.
The Texans struck first with a 65-yard TD punt return in the opening minutes, but the LQ responded immediately with a Higgs-Salaam (St. Joseph, Hammonton, NJ) KO return to the Texans 41. A couple of first downs gained with tough runs by Daniel Dutkiewicz (St. Roberts) and Anthony Rightley (Holy Cross, Delco) set up Rightley’s 26-yard scamper into pay dirt at the 4:17 mark, sobering the Texans’ premature jubilation. Then, with the precision trio of long-snapper Kyle Jones (Penn Charter), holder Dante Perry (Ancillae Assumpta Academy) and kicker Noah Evans (Penn Charter), the LQ expertly notched two more points with the PAT (youth All-Star rules). Game on.
The ensuing 45-yard LQ KO touch back was soon negated. It took the Texans a mere three plays, punctuated by a 62-yard bomb, to go the distance and pull ahead at the 3:12 mark, 14-8.
After a LQ three-and-out, the Texans gave it right back to the swarming LQ. Paul DiSanto (Colonial M.S. /Visitation CYO) recovered a fumble at the Texans’ 49 yard-line, but the LQ then gave it right back with a fumble on their own 26 to end the 1st Quarter. The Texans then exerted their will and marched to the goal line, only to be thwarted by dynamo 12 year-old Elijah Statham (People For People Charter) who forced a fumble with a ferocious hit as the Texan ball carrier was about to cross the goal-line. Elijah gathered the ball in the end zone for the touch back, flipping fortunes and firing up his teammates.
Kyle Jones entered the game at QB and immediately connected on strikes of 33 and 26 yards to Higgs-Salaam with some nifty runs in-between by Ryan DiVergilis(St. Christopher), Nick DiCicco(Penn Charter) and Rightly to march the ball down to the 4. Another bruising run by Rightly and a face-mask penalty spotted the ball on the one and Jones capped the drive with a text-book low-crouch QB sneak to wedge in against a beefy Longhorn front line. He then added 2 more with a sure-footed PAT and the LQ took a 16-14 lead into intermission.
The 3rd quarter resulted in sloppy play by both sides with no change on the scoreboard. After an early rally-cry tackle-for-loss by the high-low duo of Eric Pollnow(Roman Catholic) and Elijah Statham, Marcellus Poland (Penn Charter) followed with a key interception at mid-field. With Ortega back at the helm, the emotionally charged LQ gained 5 of their 16 total first downs in the 3rd Quarter, highlighted by an artful Ortega bootleg keeper to the Texans’ 12. But a lost fumble on the next play squashed the LQ momentum.
The LQ defense stiffened courageously, led by Pollnow, Anthony Leneghan (St. Jerome), brothers Michael and Elijah Statham(People-to-People Charter), brothers Felice and Paul DiSanto (Colonial M.S./Visitation CYO), Matt McGeary (Wissahickon M.S./Visitation CYO), Rocco Boggi (Poquessing M.S.) and Malvern Prep teammates Harry Stinger and Jake Hornibrook. The Texans were called for chop blocking and continued to lose yardage by the play. Yet it only took two plays after the LQ regained possession to unceremoniously cough it back up. The Texans immediately threatened but a tackle-for-loss by McGeary and a well-timed pass deflection near the end zone by Brendan Thomas (Upper Merion) dashed the Texans’ hopes.
The LQ and Texans traded possession throughout the 4th Quarter, with the LQ handing opportunities to the Texans with 4 drive-killing turn-over fumbles. But the Texans, hit with multiple infractions, tried to return the favor with 12 men, side-line misconduct, off-sides and personal foul calls. Then, on the third and most fatal cough-up of the quarter, the LQ spotted the feisty Texans the ball on the LQ 29 and they marched it in for the final 6 of the game at the 3:17 mark. PAT was denied by the never-say-die LQ. Score was now 20-16.
The remaining three minutes can best be described as chaotic with penalties and turnovers, yet throughout the malaise, the LQ resolve only seemed to strengthen. With a 5-yard penalty assessed against the hosts at KO, the LQ returned the ball to the Texans 47. Then, facing 3rd and 6, Ortega eluded the grasp of two defenders, circled to the flat and found Rightley open in the secondary, who deftly dodged a would-be tackler, gathered his feet and began his push toward the wide-open right side line when from behind, the ball was improbably punched loose from seemingly nowhere by a player who closed in like a Texas tornado. A LQ pounced on it amidst a scrum and for a moment all looked secure. But the ball squirted out and into a Texans’ grasp at their own 32.
And then the Texans self-imploded. They were inexplicably scourged by the yellow hanky for a total loss of 30-yards to their own 9, ultimately resulting in 4th and 24. Their punt traveled 23 yards to the Texans 39. With 00:58 seconds remaining, the LQ were faced with 3rd and 10 when a disciplined long count induced off sides against the anxious Texans. And then a personal foul confounded and indicted the hosts, placing the ball at their 20 and giving the LQ extended life with a first down. But then near-tragedy: Ortega recovered his own fumble on 1st down for a 15-yard loss with just 00:49 remaining. With no time-outs, three passes were needed to help stop the clock.
Finally, with a scant 00 :01 showing, Ortega scrambled and passed into the back of the end zone to the ever-present Higgs-Salaam who elevated, snagged and appeared to control the ball, then was rudely slammed out of bounds and the ball came loose. Incomplete pass. Game over.
But wait! Yet another yellow hanky and another defensive penalty! So with 0:00 the LQ had one more try (can’t end a game on a defensive penalty). This time Ortega scrambled madly under a fierce rush, was forced backward, then forward, then to his right, throwing on the run, barely avoiding the hot pursuit. He placed the ball almost perfectly in the front corner of the end zone for Higgs-Salaam, who turned back to the ball while sliding forward, the ball brushing against a patch of green turf before short-hopping into wide-open palms. Shielded from complete view, the LQ sideline went wild only to become crestfallen by the finality of the whistle and incomplete pass signal.
A wild bronco-ride indeed in Texas. Thrown, but not down, the LQ rose quickly to dust themselves off and ride home into the sunset of almosts and only-ifs. They came to Texas as challengers, entered into one heckuva rodeo, gave-as-good-as-they-got in the heart of Football America, and returned with heads held high – and lassoed an abundance of life-time memories.
FORT WORTH TEXANS 20, LITTLE QUAKERS 16
TEXANS: 14 0 0 6 20
LQ: 8 8 0 0 16
===== LQ 1st downs: 3 4 5 4 16 LQ Turnovers: 1 0 2 4 7 ======
CAPTAINS: R.Ortega, A. Rightley, R.DiVirgilis, A. Leneghan
Points: K. Jones 6
N. Evans 4
Pass: R. Ortega 2-9, 20
K. Jones 2-2, 59
Rush: A. Rightley: 10 – 70
R. Ortega: 7- 3
N. DiCicco: 2- 9
K. Jones: 3 – (-1)
D. Dutkiewicz: 6 – 1
Rec: J. Higgs-Salaam: 4- 59
A.Rightly 2- 20
Ret: J. Higgs Salaam: 2- 53
H. Stinger: 1- 5
The Little Quakers 63rd Season Banquet is set for Thursday, January 28, 2016 at the Villanova Conference Center in Radnor, PA. Please see attached flyer for banquet information and costs. Ticket Order Forms are available for download under “Documents”. Be sure to order your tickets now! In addition to celebrating the 63rd Season, we will also have a special tribute to LQ Head Coach Ed Foley who is stepping down after 31 years at the helm of the Little Quakers. We hope to see you all on January 28, 2016.
The document 2015 Banquet Invitation was attached to this post.
While in Texas last week, the Little Quakers had the opportunity to tour Southern Methodist University. During the tour the LQ’s met with Head Football Coach Chad Morris. Coach Morris shared his team’s Championship Culture of
2) Energy & Work Ethic
3) Mental and Physical Toughness
6) Confidence, Belief & Faith
Steve Stigall, Associate Director of Football Operations and Player Development spoke to the team about what it takes to be a Division I Football player at SMU. The tour included a trip to the weight room, team meeting room and a team photo on the Pony at the 50 yard line of Gerard J. Ford Stadium. See SMU Photo album for pics from the tour. Thanks you Coach Morris and Coach Stigall!!
The Little Quakers faced a tough opponent in Ft. Worth Texas on Saturday, December 5th and came up ONE play short of notching its 252nd win in program history. Go to: www.tedsilary.com for a full recap and stats. Look under December 10, 2015.