Offensive Explosion Propels Hawks into District Semis

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NEWTOWN – Council Rock South quarterback Billy Fleming used the word ridiculous to describe the first half of Friday night’s District One Class AAAA second round game against Central Bucks West.
That word probably works as well as any to describe an improbable half of football that saw the two teams combine for 63 points.
“That team was definitely relentless,” Fleming said of a West squad that rallied from a 14-0 deficit at the end of one quarter to trail 35-28 at the half. “That first half was ridiculous – just scoring back and forth.”
Things slowed down just a bit in the second half, but the Golden Hawks still managed to tack on 16 points as they rolled to a 52-41 win over the Bucks.  
“I knew they were a high-flying offense in so many different ways than we are,” West coach Brian Hensel said. “The part that kills me is if I could have come up with something that stopped them once or twice – if we had come up with one or two key stops, I firmly believe our kids could have gotten over the top.”
But key stops were not a part of the equation tonight as the Golden Hawks – in an offensive performance that bordered on perfection – scored on every possession except one until Fleming took a knee as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The one possession they didn’t score – midway through the first half – ended with a fumble.
On eight possessions, the Golden Hawks hit paydirt.
 “CB West is an unbelievable team, and that was just so fun to be a part of it,” Fleming said.
Fleming and the Golden Hawks had most of their fun at the Bucks’ expense. The senior quarterback was one of three players to surpass the 100-yard mark as the Golden Hawks accumulated over 500 yards on the ground, but stealing the spotlight was senior Mark Damirgian.
The senior standout – who surpassed the magical 1,000-yard plateau - finished the night with 234 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. He was – in a word – unstoppable.
Late in the third quarter, a throng of West defenders appeared to have Damirgian in their grasp for a loss, but the senior running back simply refused to go down, dragging the pack of defenders with him and turning a potential loss into a two-yard gain.
It certainly wasn’t a big play in a night of big plays – as a matter of fact, it might well have been Damirgian’s least productive run of the night, but it exemplified just how impossible to stop Damirigian and the Hawks were all night long.
“The line blocked great,” Damirgian said. “We had great downfield blocking. I was just doing my job – that’s my job to run the ball, and the offensive line was giving me big holes.”
Fleming – whose ball fakes kept the Bucks guessing all night long – ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw for 49 yards and a pair of TDs. Junior Brian Donnelly completed the 100-yard trifecta with 119 yards on just five carries.
“They had a monster game, and the offensive line was super,” Rock South coach Vince Bedesem said. “You couldn’t ask for a better effort from the offensive line, and our fullbacks – Ryan Whitely and Tony Checchia – (did an) awesome job. I’m really, really happy with our guys right now.”
In a preview of things to come, Damirgian raced 16 yards on his first touch of the night, and when Whitely punched it in from one yard out to cap a 62-yard scoring drive, the Golden Hawks had a 6-0 lead before four minutes had elapsed. The first of seven Ben Solis extra points made it a 7-0 game.
It was three-and-out for the Bucks, and the Golden Hawks proceeded to put together a 10-play scoring drive that covered 57 yards and culminated with Fleming taking it in from two yards out. That early 14-0 lead was anything but secure.
Ward Udinski – who threw for 201 yards and a pair of TDs – found Jake Poeske for 17 yards, and one play later, Poeske sprinted in from 16 yards out. The Conor Edwards extra point made it a 14-7 game.
A Golden Hawk fumble on the first play of their ensuing drive was recovered by Dan Sergeyev on Rock South’s 28-yard line. Rashaad Williams, who finished with 119 yards, eluded one would-be tackler after another, taking it home on the first play of the drive, and after Edwards’ extra point, it was a 14-14 game.
“You have to give them credit,” Donnelly said. “They were down 14-0 – that’s pretty tough in any situation, especially in the playoffs, and they did a great job.
“They came back and battled hard. They’re a great team.”
Rock South needed to go 79 yards on its next drive, and it was Damirigian jump starting the drive with back-to-back runs of 15 and 18 yards. The drive was capped with PJ Gallo leaping over his defender and hauling in a 34-yard Fleming pass to put the Golden Hawks back on top.
But not for long.
The Bucks marched 63 yards on seven plays with Williams delivering a 22 yard-run and Udinski finding tight end Max Stella for a 20-yard gain. Poeske caught a three-yard TD pass from Udinski, and Edwards’ extra point made it a 21-21 game with 4:35 remaining in the half.
A 53-yard run by Donnelly set the stage for an 80-yard scoring drive, and the Golden Hawks were back on top after a four-yard Fleming TD run.
Again, the Bucks came roaring back. Stella hauled in a 31-yard Udinski pass on the drive’s biggest play, and Williams finished off the drive with a seven-yard TD run. After the Edwards extra point, the teams were deadlocked 28-28 with exactly a minute remaining in the half.
Not much time by most standards but plenty of time for the high-flying Hawks.
Fleming found Checchia for 13 yards on first down, and one play later, Damirgian sprinted 25 yards to the Bucks’ 16. Four plays later, Fleming hit Donnelly for a two-yard touchdown pass, and after the Solis extra point, the Golden Hawks led 35-28 going into the intermission.
“We knew coming in they had a high-powered offense,” Bedesem said. “We knew they had a lot of weapons. Coach Hensel had a great game plan.
“I thought we made some adjustments in the half. We shut them down early.”
By this time, the Bucks knew they needed to score on just about every drive.
“That’s the way we were trying to conduct our offense,” Udinski said. “The way their offense was coming out firing and working on all cylinders – we knew we almost had to score on every possession to stay in the game, and we tried our best.”
On the first play of the second half, Udinski found Bill Bell with a 44-yard strike, and the Bucks marched all the way to the Golden Hawks’ three where West had second-and-goal. An illegal procedure call took the ball to the eight, and when Hunter Shull delivered a huge sack for a nine-yard loss, the Bucks found themselves on the 17-yard line.
Two plays later, the Golden Hawks took over on downs at their own four-yard line. It took just six plays for the Golden Hawks to go 96 yards. Damirgian capped the scoring drive with a 59-yard TD scamper. Just like that, the Golden Hawks led 42-28.
It would be an uphill battle the rest of the way for the Bucks, who took the ball to the Golden Hawks’ 20 where they once again turned it over on downs. The Golden Hawks responded with 68-yard drive that culminated with a 29-yard Solis field goal to put Rock South top 45-28 with 7:58 remaining.
The Bucks didn’t go down quietly, answering with an 80-yard drive that was capped with Udinski taking it in from one yard out. The Golden Hawks weren’t finished quite yet, and on a 66-yard drive that included a 42-yard Donnelly run, Damirgian took it in from four yards out to put the finishing touches on a monster performance.
“The line did a great job tonight,” Fleming said. “If everyone blocks the way they’re supposed to, it makes for a very successful offense, and that’s what we were able to do tonight.”
The win vaulted Rock South into the district semifinals where they will face North Penn, a 49-33 winner over Downingtown East.
“This is huge for our school,” Fleming said. “We go from winning our first playoff game this year to the district semifinals.
While the Golden Hawks (11-1) move on, the Bucks – who won just one game last year – see a remarkable season come to a close.
“This year is honestly like a dream come true,” Udinski said. “Just the whole senior season, turning everything around and making playoffs. Everything we have gone through the last three years -  just to put it together this year and make the most of it, it’s just been a phenomenal experience for me and all the seniors.
“I’m going to miss it so much. I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow, I don’t know what I’m going to do Monday when we don’t have practice. It’s going to be really tough to deal with – no more CB West football.”
When the game was over, the West faithful – in a display of appreciation - rose to their feet and serenaded their team with chants of ‘CB West, CB West, CB West.’
“I told the seniors – I want you to hang your hat on the fact that people recognize CB West football as a respectable entity again,’ and there’s something to be said for that,” Hensel said. “If it wasn’t our guys, I’m happy it’s those guys who are going to move on and be successful.”
Central Bucks West         0              28           0              13-41
Council Rock South          14           21           7              10-52
CRS-Ryan Whitely 1 run (Ben Solis kick)
CRS-Billy Fleming 2 run (Ben Solis kick)
CBW-Jake Poeske 16 run (Conor Edwards kick)
CBW-Rashaad Williams 28 run (Conor Edwards kick)
CRS-PJ Gallo 34 pass from Billy Fleming (Ben Solis kick)
CBW-Jake Poeske 3 pass from Ward Udinski (Conor Edwards kick)
CRS-Billy Fleming 4 run (Ben Solis kick)
CBW-Rashaad Williams 77 run (Conor Edwards kick)
CRS-Brian Donnelly 2 pass from Billy Fleming (Ben Solis kick)
CRS-Mark Damirgian 59 run (Ben Solis kick)
CRS-Ben Solis 29 field goal
CBW-Ward Udinski 1 run (Conor Edwards kick)
CRS-Mark Damirgian 4 run (Ben Solis kick)
CBW-Bill Bell 12 pass from Ward Udinski (Conor Edwards kick)
                CBW      CRS
First Downs        22           25
Rushing Yards    175         512
Passing Yards     214         49
Total Yards          389         551
Passing (C-A-I) 15-21-1 3-5-0     
Fumbles-Lost     0-0          2-1
Penalties-Yds.   7-54       13-120
Punts-Avg.          1-25.0    0-0
CB West – Rashaad Williams, 16-119, 2 TDs; Jake Poeske, 7-55, 1 TD; Ward Udinski, 3-1, 1 TD.
CR South – Mark Damirgian, 23-234, 2 TDs; Briain Donnelly, 5-119; Billy Fleming, 19-105, 2 TDs; Tony Checchia, 6-28; Ryan Whitely, 5-26, 1 TD.
CB West – Ward Udinski, 14-20-201, 2 TDs, 1 INT; Seth Ehlo, 1-1-13.
 CR South – Billy Fleming, 3-5-49, 2 TDs.
CB West – Bill Bell, 5-86, 1 TD; Max Stella, 4-66; Jake Poeske, 5-62, 1 TD.
CR South – PJ Gallo, 1-34, 1 TD; Mark Damirgian, 1-13; Brian Donnelly, 1-2, 1 TD.