SPRINGFIELD — A second-quarter snap is hardly ever the difference-making moment of a game. Jeff Biancaniello proved that theory wrong Friday night, and with a play he will never forget.
A bouncing ball ended up at Biancaniello’s feet, and the Springfield linebacker wasted no time debating his next course of action.
“I saw that ball and I said, ‘Let me pick this thing up,’” the senior said, laughing. “I was shocked it came right to me.”
The first touchdown of Biancaniello’s career gave Springfield a lead it never surrendered, leading the Cougars past Marple Newtown, 26-7, Friday night and preserving their unblemished overall and Central League records. It also stretched the Cougars’ regular-season winning streak to 16 games, dating to Oct. 21, 2016. Springfield (5-0, 4-0) benefited from three turnovers forced by its defense, including Biancaniello’s 21-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the second quarter and his fourth-quarter interception.
“He’s got the best hands on the team, by far,” said fellow Springfield linebacker Patrick Clemens.
Biancaniello’s touchdown snapped a scoreless game and spurred the Cougars to 19 consecutive points. Along the way, junior kicker Brett Barber knocked through two field goals, one going for a career-best 38 yards, and running back Ben Konah rushed for a five-yard score.
Springfield sought this end result. The path by which it arrived at a win, however, was unconventional.
The Cougars could not get their offense on track through the game’s first 15 minutes, managing only three first downs in that time. All the while, Biancaniello and the defense helped Springfield hold serve, stalling out a handful of Marple Newtown’s drives. Aidan Shandley and Andrew Johnson each batted away third-down passes. Sam Bamiteko dropped Tigers quarterback Brian Joslin for a drive-stopping sack, and Johnson brought down Joslin on third down to stymie Marple Newtown’s next series.
“Our guys, they adjust well during the games,” Springfield coach Chris Britton said. “It’s communicating clearly and they carry out the plan, which is the best part. They react. That’s what makes it so adjustable for us.”
With the game still knotted at zeroes, Marple Newtown running back Marlon Weathers lost control of a second-quarter handoff and, after the ball kicked around on the ground for a few seconds, Biancaniello got his hands on it. The senior scooped up the loose ball near the 21-yard line and raced downfield for a touchdown.
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