RADNOR — A week after a complete dismantling at the hands of Garnet Valley, Penncrest wasn't in the best of moods when it arrived at Radnor High School Friday.
Still carrying the frustration doled out so liberally by the Jaguars a week ago, the Lions defense reasoned that best way to avoid a repeat was to take a little of that frustration out on the field.
The result was a long evening for the Radnor offense.
On a night when Penncrest linebacker Joe Volciak was arguably the most productive person in Radnor's backfield, the Lions rediscovered their stifling defensive ways in a 30-7 Central League win.
"We were playing angry out there today,' linebacker Andrew Benecke. "We were ticked off, so we wanted to come out and play our best. We didn't play our best last week.'
You could excuse a few bruised egos for Penncrest (6-1, 5-1), just seven days removed from getting run through for 47 points by Garnet Valley, 14 more than it had given up in the first five games of the season combined. The Lions held firm Friday, though, limiting the Raiders to just 28 yards on the ground on 24 attempts and 61 yards of total offense.
Part of the reason was the ability of the likes of Volciak, Benecke and their fellow Lions to get off the ball and get after Radnor's quarterback duo of Chris Leighton and Brian McKeon. They recorded five sacks, two each from Volciak and Diego Zubieta and one for Benecke, while Volciak added several other pressures and batted down two passes.
It was quite the way to regroup after Garnet Valley.
"After a tough loss, we just wanted to get back on a winning streak,' Volciak said. "We just had to put our heads together and play hard.'
About the only time Penncrest looked vulnerable was just after a halftime break from which Radnor (1-6, 1-5) came roaring out. Leighton broke free on a 43-yard scamper, and the next play, Chris Galloway ran the final 10 yards for the Raiders' only score.
When Galloway picked off Penncrest quarterback Danny Fisher three plays later and returned it 32 yards to the Penncrest 15, the Raiders appeared to have a chance to cut further into a 17-point halftime deficit. But the drive stalled, thanks in large part to stops of running plays for little to no gain on the first three downs by Zubieta, Volciak and John George.
"We just needed to clean up some things on offense,' Galloway said. "We needed to get back into our comfort zone and push it to get it going. ... I feel like that gave us the momentum, but we just had to finish. I don't know why we didn't.'
The Penncrest defense limited Radnor to minus-4 yards in the first half and forced two turnovers, including an interception by Brent Roller, to give its offense plenty of room to operate. Most of the damage in the first half was done on the ground as the day's rain continued before clearing out at halftime. Justin Batipps carried seven times on the Lions' opening drive, a nine-play march that Batipps finished with a one-yard dive.
The kicking game helped manufacture the half's remaining points for Penncrest. Galloway muffed a punt early in the second quarter that was pounced on by Angelo Lochetto at the 9. Two plays later, Fisher snuck in for a four-yard score.
A pair of Radnor pass interference calls on the final drive of the half set up Penncrest for a 26-yard field goal as time expired, and Nate Hughes split the uprights to send the teams to half with Penncrest leading 17-0.
Once Penncrest weathered Radnor's brief surge, the passing game was able to benefit from the space opened by the early running success of Batipps (16 carries, 99 yards) and others. Fisher found Chris Coughlin for a 33-yard score that helped set up Fisher's one-yard scoring dive in the third quarter. Then Fisher hooked up with LaVaughn Frame on a 42-yard post route with 6:29 left to end any hopes of a Radnor comeback.
"It was raining, so we had to run the ball a lot more,' Fisher said. "But we were running it really well throughout the game, and it set up the passing game. ... They were blitzing a lot, so we did a lot of play action and that worked for us.'