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Lions Sports

Victory Hardly a Shore Thing, But O'Hara Pulls It Out

OHara Varsity vs Burke Catholic on 6/25/2012 3:30:00 PM
Posted Sunday, September 02, 2012 by www.delcotimes.com
 

H.S. Football: Victory hardly a Shore thing, but O’Hara pulls it out

 

OCEAN CITY, N.J. — The conditions were about right on this hot and hazy day at the beach Saturday, unless you were wearing shoulder pads instead of a tank tops, cleats rather than flip-flops.

It’s a bit of a tradition now, Cardinal O’Hara starting the football season with a Labor Day Weekend game at the shore. But anyone new to the experience might wonder if the heat beating down on Ocean City High School, fueled all the more by an annually increasing audience of vacationing alums, can turn the heat up a touch too much.

“I think it (contributes) to it,” O’Hara quarterback Dashawn Darden said after he helped the Lions quell a strong Week 1 challenge from Archbishop Ryan, 13-7. “It’s the first game of the season, and we’re down the shore playing in front of a big crowd. But it’s fun. I had a lot of fun today.”

Darden (6-for-15, 69 yards, one rushing touchdown and a TD pass) didn’t have his best statistical day, but did enough to ultimately reward a terrific debut by the Lions’ defense, which was having none of this comeback chatter trending along the sidelines in the second half.

“Last year we came back on them and we didn’t want that to happen to us,” O’Hara linebacker Nick Moriconi said of Ryan’s Raiders. “So we came out in the second half and the defense just kept saying, ‘Three and out! Three and out!’ But they came down and scored and after that we were trying to get the offense to score. But when they didn’t click, the defense just had to take over.”

That it did, led by Moriconi, who had six tackles, two break-ups and ended the game with an interception on Ryan’s last-gasp drive.

None of that seemed to disrupt his view of the Catholic League world.

“It’s awesome. Coming down here you get to ride on the big bus, and it’s so cool to see the ocean view,” Moriconi said. “I always come down to the shore, so to be able to play here, it’s just a great opportunity. A lot of us are used to it now. It’s different from playing behind O’Hara, but I don’t think it bothers or distracts us.”

Nothing seemed to be bothering O’Hara on the game’s opening drive, however.

Mixing some runs by Lamont Veal with a few of his own, Darden got O’Hara to the 25. There, he found senior Joe DeMaio with a scoring strike for an early lead.

 

Before long, however, Darden would miss two more wide-open touchdown pass chances and get picked off as O’Hara couldn’t get out of an offensive stall.

“Most likely first-game jitters,” Darden said. “Little butterflies.”

Behind Moriconi and superb junior lineman Eric Trainor, among others, the Lions defense was having little problem with Ryan. The Raiders also hurt themselves, especially when a bad snap on a punt set up the Lions inside the Ryan 10. It took just two plays before Darden coasted around right end for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead with 2:27 left in the first half.

But it wouldn’t be so easy for O’Hara in the second half. While the offense continued to sputter, the Raiders’ Billy Dykan jumped on a fumble and put them in business at their 42. It took four straight carries by Jeremiah Agrio — one of them good for 47 yards — to put Ryan on the board, cutting the lead to 13-7 with 11:56 left to play.

Quite simply, O’Hara’s defense had to hold it there.

“They should have beaten us last year,” O’Hara coach Dan Algeo said. “We knew they had a good football team. But our defense played really, really well. The irony is that in the two scrimmages we had this year, we played better offensively than we did defensively. And today we just played really, really good defense. We struggled offensively; we turned the ball over way too much.”

What the Lions’ offense did do in the fourth quarter was hold onto the ball. Darden and Co. put together an 11-play drive that didn’t yield points but killed much of the quarter clock.

The Lions’ defense took it from there, snuffing consecutive Ryan drives.

It all added up to a successful start for O’Hara, albeit with a lesson voiced by running back Veal: “We have a lot of work to do,” he said.

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