GLENOLDEN — John Ferguson got a late start on defense for Springfield Friday night.
Ferguson picked off two passes as part of a stellar defensive effort by the Cougars in their 13-7 victory over Interboro at the South Avenue Athletic Complex.
"I didn't start the game, but when one our players started cramping up, I knew had I go in there and do the job,' said Ferguson, who also hauled in a 33-yard reception at wide receiver. "I was just ... helping out.'
Springfield's fast and furious defense picked off first-year Interboro quarterback Pat Cashin on four occasions. Ferguson put the nail in the coffin, as his interception with less than two minutes to play in regulation capped a knock-down, drag-out contest slightly overshadowed by both teams' inability to take care of the ball.
One thing is certain, however. Both teams have can crack helmets. Linebackers Adam Krauter (Springfield) and Sonny Armstrong (Interboro) were mad men, delivering big hits like they were tossing out free candy.
"Both defenses really came to play,' Springfield lineman Nick Apostolu said.
Springfield snapped a 7-7 deadlock in the waning moments of the third quarter. Sophomore signal-caller Charlie Carbin (who is also listed on the roster as a defensive lineman) rolled to his right and fired a perfect pass to Collin Braconnier, who darted up the sideline 25 yards to the end zone to make it 13-7. It was sweet redemption for Braconnier who, moments earlier, had a pass go right through his hands.
P.J. Johnson intercepted Cashin late in the fourth quarter and the Cougars were set up nicely. Instead of using their ground game — which had little success — the Cougars decided to pass in the red zone. That decision almost proved costly, as Carbin aired a pass toward the corner of the end zone, but the errant throw was intercepted by Nick Pfaff. That gave the Bucs one final last shot.
Ferguson had other ideas.
"As the game goes on, you get more comfortable and things really start flowing,' he said. "I just knew I had to be in the right spot.'
One of Interboro's best strengths is its depth in the backfield, but Springfield's swarming defense held the Bucs in check. No Buc running back broke off a run of more than nine yards.
"I think we're going to play hard defense this year,' Springfield coach Tom Kline said, "and then we're going to try to wear you down on offense. The wear-down factor is big. They're playing 13 or 14 kids both ways and we're rotating 30 bodies on the field.'
Interboro did hang in there, but the Bucs were caught off guard by Springfield's relentless defense. Did the Bucs realize what they were up against?
"No, not really,' Interboro coach Steve Lennox said. "Obviously, it's hard to tell when it's the first game and there's no film to go off of. It's hard to tell watching them scrimmage, too, when they're rotating kids in and out.'
Springfield limited Interboro's rushing attack to 121 yard son 31 carries. Quran Montenon led the way with 73 yards on 23 totes. The Bucs scored in slightly bizarre fashion when Armstrong took a carry and ran up the gut for four yards before fumbling the ball at the 2-yard-line. Cashin was there to scoop up the loose ball and rolled in the end zone, knotting the score with 6:22 left in the third quarter.
"Defensively, I thought we played well,' Lennox said.
"No,' he said.
Cashin completed 11 of 28 passes, but his receivers didn't help matters. The Bucs had five drops, including one by normally dependable junior Mark Everton in the corner of the end zone.
"We made too many mistakes (and) we kept giving them back the ball,' Lennox said.
Interboro, the defending District One Class AAA champion, might have played with a little too much confidence.
"I think they got caught up reading their own press clippings,' Lennox said of his players.
Meanwhile, Springfield played with a chip on its shoulder.
"We saw it in the paper this morning,' Ferguson said, referring to the Daily Times' staff predictions. "We were all a little mad about that. That gave us some more motivation.'