La Salle makes an emphatic statement

Posted: September 23, 2012

Despite having a spotless record and Southeastern Pennsylvania's No. 1 ranking, Mike Eife and his La Salle teammates entered Saturday's nonleague matchup against Malvern Prep feeling, he said, a bit underappreciated.

"There was so much talk about [Catholic League rival] St. Joe's Prep, and a couple of the newspapers had picked us to lose this game," said Eife, a senior fullback and linebacker. "So we kind of had a chip on our shoulder."

In what coach Drew Gordon and several of his players referred to as a "statement" game, the visiting Explorers put up 31 points before intermission and buried the No. 9-ranked Friars, 38-6, at the Pellegrini Athletic Complex.

Said Gordon: "Today was supposed to be our statement day. We said to the kids, 'Are you good? If you are, play that way.' "

Through three quarters, Eife and company held the defending Inter-Academic League champions to 43 yards rushing and 50 passing.

"We played awesome on defense," said Eife, who was involved in five tackles, including a second-quarter sack. "We talked all week about coming here and making a statement, and that's exactly what we did."

Late in the first half, cornerback Chris Rocco, making his 18th birthday especially memorable, scooped up a fumble, created by end Patrick Hoffman's strip of halfback Troy Gallen, and scored on a 30-yard return.

Earlier in the second quarter, strong safety Andrew Eidenshink's fumble recovery at the Malvern 16 set up quarterback Chris Kane's 4-yard touchdown toss to tight end Jon Naji.

In the opening 24 minutes, the Friars' wing-T offense managed only 3 rushing yards and the same number of first downs.

"It definitely helped playing Cardinal O'Hara last week," said La Salle senior Trent Simmons, a first-year starter at inside linebacker.

"That game prepared us for the wing-T. There were no surprises today."

Kane connected on 11 of 17 passes for 128 yards before the break. With less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, his 13-yard strike to Levi Hardy brought on the 35-point mercy rule.

"We had great field position most of the day," Kane said. "That allows you to take some chances, go for broke on some plays."

On defense, the Explorers (4-0) were also led by tackles Luke Persichetti, end Ryan Coonahan (third-quarter sack), linebacker Zaire Franklin, and cornerback Dad Poquie.

One of the few highlights for Malvern (2-2) was Joe Carlini's 21-yard run on a fake-punt play in the third quarter.

La Salle   10 21 7 0 – 38

Malvern Prep   0 0 0 6 – 6

LS: FG Ryan Winslow 33

LS: Chris Kane 1 run (Winslow kick)

LS: Kane 1 run (Winslow kick)

LS: Jon Naji 4 pass from Kane (Winslow kick)

LS: Chris Rocco 30 fumble return (Winslow kick)

LS: Levi Hardy 13 pass from Kane (Winslow kick)

MP: Troy Gallen 67 pass from Billy Ford (kick failed)


Contact Rick O'Brien at robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

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