DOWNINGTOWN — Downingtown West coach Mike Milano admittedly didn't know what to do.
With so much at stake-- bragging rights, a league title and and playoff spot -- Milano couldn't make this decision on his own. So he went to his team for advice.
The answer was a resounding yes. The result was an reverberating moment in the Downingtown West-Downingtown East crosstown rivalry.
After Nick Pagel ran for his third touchdown with 2:08 left in the game, Milano called Pagel's number again on the two-point conversion. The senior quarterback took the snap, slid to his right and found Jake Barr in the front corner of the end zone to give the Whippets a 29-28 lead.
West's defense held East to a field goal try on the next possession and when the kick sailed left, the Whippets sent their raucous crowd into euphoria with a one-point Ches-Mont National Division win at Kottmeyer Stadium.
The Whippets (5-0 division, 7-2 overall) beat East for the first time since 2009, and will play undefeated Coatesville for the division title Friday."I had it in my head but I wasn't sure,' Milano said. "I thought East was a grind-it-out team and I was torn. It was the play we worked on all week and Nick Pagel made a great read on the two-point play.'
Downingtown East (2-3, 4-5) controlled the line of scrimmage all night, chewing up 397 yards on the ground. Riley Angeline ran for 253 of them and two scores.
On the Cougars' final drive, they moved the ball to the Downingtown West 16 yard line before Angeline was stopped for a 1-yard loss on third-and-one. Instead of going for it with his big back and 48 seconds left, East Coach Mike Matta decided to try to win it with a field goal."(Kicker Drew Brennan) had been pretty consistent in practice and we gave him a chance,' Matta said. "If he makes that, everything is different.'
The game ultimately came down to which team could capitalize more on the other team's mistakes. And there were plenty of them.
In the first half, the Whippets couldn't convert on two Cougar fumbles, but did get its points after Cary Angeline's knee touched while fielding a punt snap at the East six. Pagel, who finished with 93 yards on the ground and 89 in the air, scored two plays later.
On its final drive of the first half, West had a fourth-and-one at the Cougar 10, but Brandon Feamster blitzed from his linebacker spot to blast Mitch Meleski for a two-yard loss. Meleski wouldn't return.
"In a big game, we can't have anything slow us down,' Pagel said. "Our offense kept executing and we had a lot of guys do big things for us.'
The Whippets made up for missed opportunities right out of the gate when Thomas Mattioni returned the kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown.
"Our special teams were a disaster and I'm the special teams coordinator and we were a disaster,' Matta said. "If you're gonna blame anyone, blame me. I'm in charge of the special teams.'
Again, the mistakes swung the momentum in the third quarter. On East's first drive, a shotgun snap sailed and Eric Stanko recovered for West. The Whippets drove to the East eight, but on first down, Jimmy DiSantis was stripped at the two and the Cougars recovered.
East then went on a 15-play, 98-yard drive, culminated by a 28-yard TD by Ryan Fay from Hudson to tie the game at 14. West dropped its second potential interception on the drive.
The fourth quarter was a wild one. On West's first play in the frame, Pagel's pass tipped off the fingers of Derrick Boyer and into the hands of East's Kevin Distefano. Five plays later Hudson found Cary Angeline for a seven-yard TD.
West responded with a pair of 31-yard plays by Barr and Boyer to set up Pagel's second trip to paydirt, tying it at 21.
The Whippets could not stop the Ryley Angeline, and East retook the lead three minutes later when he found the end zone from five yards out, setting the stage for Pagel.
Pagel ran the ball four times on the next drive for 59 yards, the final a two-yard TD.
"It's a great feeling to finally get one under our belt,' Pagel said. "We hadn't beat them in three years and it's the best feeling. I'm on top of the world right now.'
Barr carried the ball five times for 45 yards, adding a seven-yard reception, giving the Whippets speed on the edge on their final two drives while filling in for Meleski.
"I'd much rather have Mitch in that spot, but we have a lot of confidence in Jake,' Milano said. "We gave him the ball and didn't change our offense.'
Angeline went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season with his effort, but East's slim playoff hopes evaporated with the loss.
West is likely in for the second straight season, and a win over Coatesville would give the Whippets their first league title since sharing one in 2009.
"It means everything,' Pagel said. "It was our No. 1 goal before the season, taking home the Ches-Mont title. Now we have our chance.'
Downingtown West 29, Downingtown East 28
Downingtown West 8 0 7 14 --- 29
Downingtown East 7 0 7 14 — 28
DE- R. Angeline 55 run (Brennan kick)
DW- Pagel 2 run (Lattanzi pass from McNulty)
DW- Mattioni 86 kick return (kick blocked)
DE- Fay 28 pass from Hudson (Brennan kick)
DE- C. Angeline 7 pass from Hudson (Brennan kick)
DW- Pagel 1 run (Bowler kick)
DE- R. Angeline 5 run (Brennan kick)
DW- Pagel 2 run (Barr pass from Pagel)
First downs 13 19
Rushing yards 248 397
Passing yards 97 74
Total yards 345 471
Passing 9-15-1 5-10-0
Punts-Average 3-38.7 2-31.5
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 3-3
Penalties-Yards 4-24 6-40
Rushing: DW- Pagel 13-92, 3 TDs; Barr 5-45; Harper 4-35; DiSantis 6-27; McNulty 4-21; McNulty 4-21; Meleski 9-16; Boyer 3-12. DE- R. Angeline 37-253, 2 TDs; Fay 10-92; Connor 10-45; Hudson 4-7; team 1-0.
Passing: DW- Pagel 8-11, 89 yards, INT; McNulty 1-4, 8 yards. DE- Hudson 5-10, 74 yards, 2 TDs.
Receiving: DW- Boyer 3-65; Meleski 3-18; Domblesky 2-7; Barr 1-7. DE- C. Angeline 3-32, TD; Coyle-Nicholas 1-14; Fay 1-28, TD.
Interceptions: DW- none. DE- DiStefano.