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PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. – The game of football is one of adjustments. Some are big adjustments and some are subtle. And sometimes, it’s the subtlest of adjustments that yield the biggest impact.

 

Just ask LaSalle head coach Drew Gordon, who simply tweaked an offensive formation at halftime.

 

“We switched from a double tight set to a spread formation to open up some running lanes,” Gordon said. “And our kids did a great job with it.”

 

LaSalle College (8-1) piled up 372 rushing yards – 237 of them in the second half – to flatten St. Joseph’s Prep (4-5) and the Hawks’ three-game winning streak 31-7 Saturday evening at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School.

 

Perhaps the greatest beneficiary from the offensive adjustment was Explorer senior running back Jamal Abdur-Rahman. After earning every bit of his 58 first half rushing yards, most of which came on three runs of 22 and 23 yards. Rahman exploded for touchdown runs of 66 and 69 yards in the second half and finished with 243 yards and two scores on 20 totes.

 

“The coaches told us, told our linemen that we were a second half team,” the Villanova-bound Abdur-Rahman said. “We always have the intensity real high (in the second half).”

 

The Hawks were able to keep LaSalle close for a half, but eventually were too physically worn down to contend with the three-pronged rushing attack of Abdur-Rahman, Tim Wade and Kevin Forster.

 

“When you don’t control the ball offensively and you’re on the field defensively (for most of the game), then you get worn down,” said St. Joe’s Prep head coach Gabe Infante. “In the first half, we were with them blow-for-blow.”

 

The Hawks and Explorers each missed first half field goal attempts – St. Joe’s a 27-yarder and LaSalle a 34-yarder – and the lone first half score came courtesy of a Wade 8-yard run. Wade’s run was set up two plays earlier by a hook-and-ladder play spanning 38 total yards, with Abdur-Rahman finishing the final 35 yards down to the Prep 9.

 

By halftime, LaSalle had outgained the Prep 176-72, but the Hawks had actually outpassed LaSalle 17-6. LaSalle’s defense harassed Prep field general Skyler Mornhinweg into a 2-of-9 first half.

 

Abdur-Rahman’s 66-yard touchdown run pushed the Explorers’ lead to 14-0, and the lead ballooned to 21-0 on LaSalle’s next offensive series when Forster (5-of-13, 50 yards, TD) hooked up with Colin Buckley on a 10-yard scoring pass.

 

Sophomore kicker Ryan Winslow booted a 22-yard field goal and Abdur-Rahman capped the Explorers’ scoring with a 69-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter.

 

St. Joe’s Prep was able to cut the LaSalle lead to 21-7 when Mornhinweg hit Adrian Johnson on a 19-yard scoring pass with 3:59 left in the third quarter. And Prep seemed to have some life breathed back into it when it recovered the ensuing kickoff at the LaSalle 40 yard line.

 

But Mornhinweg’s ensuing deep pass was picked off by Abdur-Rahman at the Explorer 8, and the blue and gold dodged a major bullet.

 

Defense did it for LaSalle, too. Prep only managed 196 total yards of offense – 134 on the ground and 76 of those yards coming from senior back Mark Casale – and Mornhinweg finished 7-of-24 for 70 yards.

 

“The defense was sensational (tonight),” Gordon said.

 

About the only downside for the Explorers was Wade (12 rushes, 78 yards) limping to the sideline in the fourth quarter, apparently reaggravating an ankle ailment that has plagued him all season.

 

“The last 3-4 weeks, he’s limped off the field in the fourth quarter,” Gordon said. “It’s a recurring ankle injury.”

 

LaSalle played without quarterback Matt Magarity (concussion), who could potentially return within the next week or two. Magarity has thrown for 746 yards and 11 scores this season, but Gordon said Forster gives the Explorers some options.

 

“Kevin gives us some things,” Gordon said. “He gives us the ability to run the option.”

 

- Stats note: According to Tedsilary.com, the hook-and-ladder play LaSalle ran in the first half counts entirely as receiving yardage – 0 for Sean Coleman and the remainder went to Abdur-Rahman. I had originally made a mistake and credited the yards to Rahman as rushing yards, which would have boosted his total to 278.

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