Springfield, Pa. Anyone expecting to see an exciting game with lots of action was not disappointed after the show that Desmon Peoples and his cousin Brandon Peoples put on yesterday during Archbishop Wood’s 48-34 victory over conference rival Cardinal O’Hara yesterday afternoon at O’Hara’s new field in Delaware County.
Wood (8-0, 2-0) and O’Hara (8-0, 2-0) came into yesterday’s highly anticipated matchup as the class of both the AAA Philadelphia Catholic League and state rankings. Both teams pride themselves with stingy defenses and potent offenses coming in. Something was about to give.
The fireworks started almost immediately during the Vikings first drive when Brandon Peoples ran thru the middle of the Lions defense for a 54 yard touchdown run. Not to be outdone by Peoples, the Lions Jay Watkins took the ensuing kickoff and scored on an electrifying 75 yard TD.
On Wood’s second possession, the Vikings generated a nine play, five minute drive culminating with Quarterback Joey Monahan’s one yard touchdown. Monahan then continued his good fortune when he intercepted a Ryan Laughlin pass on O’Hara’s next drive. On Wood’s very next play, Brandon Peoples scooted for another 58 yard touchdown and a 20-6 Wood lead.
O’Hara only ran five offensive plays (to Wood’s 16) by the end of the first Quarter. O’Hara began to pick up the pace in the second stanza with their own quick score offense going 68 yards in only four plays with three Laughlin completions and ending with beautiful strike to Senior WR Tyler Gallen and a 42 yard touchdown. Two series later Laughlin again connected with Gallen for a 15 yard TD pass and a tie at 20. Not to be outdone by the two Laughlin TD passes, Brandon Peoples cousin, Desmon decided to join in the fun on Wood’s next drive with his own 68 yard run then a 12 yard burst and a score giving the Vikings a 27-20 halftime lead.
O’Hara hurt themselves with two costly turnovers both before and right after the half. Wood recovered a Lions fumble in Vikings territory just before the half and fumbled again to start the second half on their own 27 yard line which ultimately led to another Wood score. Three plays after the Lions second fumble, Monahan’s 29 yard touchdown run through the middle of the Lion defense gave them a 34-20 lead. But O’Hara answered again going 58 yards in seven plays with the running of both Adam Dempsey and a 14 yard TD run by Watkins.
Any thoughts of a Lions comeback were immediately thwarted when Desmon Peoples took the kickoff and did his own circus imitation and a 95 yard touchdown and a Vikings 41-27 lead.
With Dempsey beginning to bear down on his own running game, he generated 50 yards in the next drive ending with Laughlin’s one yard plunge to bring O’Hara back to within a touchdown.
After a missed Wood field goal, the Vikings held off O’Hara next drive to try to knot the score and took advantage of an O’Hara bad snap on a punt formation that enabled them to have great field position on O”Hara’s 23 yard line. Five plays later, Brandon Peoples put an exclamation point on the game with an eight yard TD run.
Laughlin was pressured throughout and was sacked five times. The Lions also played without the services of RB’s Brendan McLaughlin (high ankle sprain) and Damiere Shaw (concussion).
For the Vikings, Desmon Peoples (11-175 rushing, one rushing TD, 95 kick return TD) and his cousin Brandon (9-170, 2 TD’s) as well as their offensive drive blocking, provided the difference in victory. Monahan (2 rushing TD’s, one interception, and a fumble recovery) also made a serious impact.
Both these teams figure to see each other a second time in two weeks when the PCL AAA league championship takes place. Wood plays Archbishop Carroll next week in their semifinal matchup while O’Hara will take on Monsignor Bonner.