For La Salle, triumphant turn to ground game

Posted: September 17, 2010

With its usually potent passing game struggling, largely because of quarterback Matt Magarity's first-half groin injury, La Salle concentrated on the run in Friday night's nonleague football matchup against fellow Catholic League champion West Catholic.

Jamal Abdur-Rahman, whose surgically repaired knee appears to be improving each week, responded to increased duty with a career-high 229 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries as the Explorers turned back the Burrs, 14-7, at Widener University.

Abdur-Rahman, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior tailback and Villanova recruit, immediately put the hosts on their heels, bursting off left tackle on a zone run and beating a pack of defenders along the sideline en route to a 65-yard score.

In the second half, with the injured Magarity sitting out and sophomore Chris Kane taking over, Abdur-Rahman provided the game-winner on a 13-yard, right-side dash with 8 minutes, 11 seconds remaining.

"He did a great job," La Salle coach Drew Gordon said. "He really carried us in the second half. And that's not surprising to us. We expect that type of game from him."

La Salle, ranked No. 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, rebounded from a 22-21 loss at Bergen Catholic (N.J.) and improved to 2-1. West Catholic, coming off a 27-6 win over Monsignor Bonner, slipped to 1-2.

For the season, Abdur-Rahman has rushed 49 times for 350 yards and three scores. Against the Burrs, he replaced cornerback Ryan Otis (shoulder injury) and finished with three tackles.

Said Gordon: "Quite honestly, because of the injury, I don't know how much confidence he has in planting and taking off. That's something that could come back soon or maybe won't return until college."

In the first half, Magarity, a junior who had passed for more than 200 yards in each of his first two starts, connected on just 2 of 13 throws for 14 yards. He did not reveal the groin injury to coaches until the break.

"I admire him for trying to tough it out," Gordon said, "but we want him to be honest with us in those situations. We could have worked around it. He's not helping us by being brave and keeping his mouth shut."

Early in the fourth quarter, the Burrs forged a 7-7 tie on Anthony Reid's 11-yard TD toss to wideout Quran Kent. That capped a 14-play, 54-yard drive.

On the last play before intermission, with the Explorers ahead by 7-0 and at the West Catholic 25, a Magarity pass toward the end zone was picked off by Brandon Hollomon (14 carries for 84 yards) at the 4.

Reid, a North Catholic transfer, hit on 11 of 25 throws for 88 yards.

La Salle   7 0 0 7 – 14

West Catholic   0 0 0 7 – 7

L: Abdur-Rahman 65 run (Winslow kick)

WC: Kent 11 pass from Reid (Schieler kick)

L: Abdur-Rahman 13 run (Winslow kick)


Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019

or robrien@phillynews.com.

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