CB West air attack grounds CB East
Alex Gibson’s first-quarter stats were ridiculous: 10 carries for 188 yards and three touchdowns, including a 77-yard jaunt with less than 10 seconds remaining.
Unfortunately for the Central Bucks East standout and the Patriots, Central Bucks West kept pace, specifically through the air, behind accurate senior quarterback John Fitz, as the Bucks held on to defeat CB East, 42-34, on Friday night at rocking War Memorial Field in Doylestown.
“Our kids stepped up in the second half and executed the adjustments that we wanted them to make,” CB West head coach Brian Hensel said.
The Patriots took a 28-21 lead on Gibson’s fourth and final touchdown of the night, a 58-yard burst with 8:44 remaining in the second quarter. But the Bucks scored on their final two possessions of the first half. Mark Ciaudelli caught a Fitz pass and raced 63 yards to the house to make it 28-28, and Joe Ramos scooted in from four yards out with 3.8 seconds on the clock to put CB West up, 35-28.
“Fitz put the ball exactly where I wanted it to be,” said Ramos, a senior who finished with eight catches for 119 yards and two scores. “He puts the [ball] in the right spot, and he reads defenses well.”
The defenses took over in the second half. On the Bucks’ first three drives after intermission, the Patriots forced three three-and-outs. On the next drive, however, Fitz found senior Corey Schott for a 76-yard touchdown hookup to push the lead to 42-28 with less than 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
CB East answered on the ensuing possession, as quarterback Zach Nelsen connected with Ryan Kronmiller on fourth and eight for a 12-yard touchdown strike at the 9:06 mark of the fourth quarter. The extra-point attempt was blocked.
The Patriots had one last opportunity to send the game into overtime in the closing seconds, but a Nelsen fourth-down pass fell incomplete and the Bucks took over.
“I’m just really proud of our guys,” CB East head coach John Donnelly said. “I’m heartbroken for them because this is one they wanted so bad.”
The game certainly lived up to the hype. An offensive fireworks display in the first half gave way to a defensive struggle in the second. CB West eventually found a way to contain Gibson, an explosive sophomore who still managed to finish with an astounding 293 yards on 26 heart-pounding carries.
“He made a lot of people miss,” Donnelly said of his two-year starting tailback. “He made some plays on his own tonight, but he certainly had a lot of great blocking, as well. He’s a dynamic player. He’s a warrior.”
Hensel admired the fire he saw on the other side of the field.
“You got to give them a whole lot of credit,” he said. “They saw some deficiencies in what we were trying to do and they were able to take advantage of them big time. They just exploded. But I want to give our kids credit, too. They didn’t panic. They trusted we would make the adjustments that were necessary.”
The Bucks came up with two turnovers in the second half. Defensive coordinator Tony Romeo’s crew forced a fumble on CB East’s first possession after the break and Ramos snagged an interception on a failed wide receiver heave three drives later. Ramos is averaging about a pick a game from his cornerback position.
“Joe is, without question, the emotional leader of our team,” Hensel said. “He plays with his heart on his sleeve. He gets the other guys fired up to work harder, play harder and inspires other guys to play their best. We owe a lot to Joe.”
Fitz has been on the mark, as well. Against CB East, he threw for 299 yards on 15 completions and four scores. He also amassed a team-high (with Marvin Todd) 64 yards on the ground. Both Fitz and Todd added rushing touchdowns.
“I think it’s the chemistry between the seniors, juniors and sophomores,” Ramos said, when asked why CB West (5-1 overall, 3-0 SOL Continental) has been successful. “We play as a family. Families have each other’s back. And we’re family, man. It’s family here.”
The Patriots (2-4, 1-2) wanted it just as bad as the Bucks, which rendered Donnelly nearly speechless in his assessment after Friday’s contest.
“It’s tough to look them in the eye after a game like this when they’ve just poured their heart and soul into it and came up short by eight points,” he said.
A disappointed CB East squad witnessed a jubilant CB West team whoop it up after the scoreboard clock read 0:00.
“Dream. Come. True,” Ramos said.
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