**Note: This article also published on PaPrepLive.com**
HORSHAM — On a night when the Hatboro Horsham and Upper Merion football teams had rain, wind, and cold to deal with in addition to each other, it was clear early the team who won the physical battle would come out on top.
The Hatters were that team, as they dominated both sides of the ball to get a 30-6 win in SOL American Conference play.
“The offensive line stepped up big time,” Hatboro coach Mike Kapusta said. “We put a challenge out to them that we needed to establish the running game and the kids stepped. They blocked their butts off. And we had a lot of kids that were running downhill and ran hard.”
Hatboro-Horsham ran for 207 yards on 49 carries.
The Hatters (2-4, 2-0) were able to set the tone early with their opening drive of the game. Behind six carries from running back Adam Suder for 25 yards, the Hatters were able to march 14 plays and take a 6-0 lead. Suder was injured and never returned in the game, but his backfield mate Robert Fitzgerald finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Fitzgerald became the mail-carrier for Hatboro the rest of the game, finishing with 20 carries for 79 yards and that touchdown.
From there it was evident the Hatter defense would be the tone-setters in this one. Hatboro-Horsham was able to force 5 sacks in the game; Phil Pagliaro led the way with three sacks on the night, while Jordan Mason and Evan Nemath each recorded one of their own.
The Vikings (2-3, 0-2) also totaled just 24 yards rushing on 18 carries in the first half, and 60 yards on 30 carries for the game.
“I thought our DBs did a nice job at containing some very dangerous threats on the perimeter,” Kapusta said. “Then the guys up front and the linebackers were stuffing holes all night. They played really well tonight.”
In addition to the sacks, Hatboro was also able to force two turnovers on the night. In addition to an Anthony Kwiatanowski interception late in the game, a Marc Picarelli fumble was recovered by Nick Schuck for the Hatters in the first half to set them up with great field position at the Upper Merion 31. Five plays later the Hatters had their second score of the game, as quarterback Casey Walsh took a keeper nine yards for a touchdown. A Jin Kim extra point made the score 13-0.
Walsh did a nice job managing the game all night, going 7-9 for 109 yards through the air and adding 35 on the ground.
The final drive of the half proved to be the most promising Upper Merion in the opening 24 minutes. The Vikings were able to convert a 3rd and 10 with a 35-yard pass play from quarterback Robert Quinn to Jack McGrath. Then, after Pagliaro’s second sack of the game left Upper Merion with a 4th and 14, backup quarterback and starting wide receiver Isaiah Graham-Mobley found running back Kori Smith for a 30-yard game to put the ball at the Hatboro 1.
Holding strong, the Hatters defense again bowed their back and stopped Upper Merion two straight plays as time ran out in the first half to secure a 13-0 lead.
The second half saw much of the same as the first, thanks to a tone-setting opening drive by the Hatters. A 6-play, 57-yard drive punctuated by a 7-yard Kingsley Nworu made the score 20-0 Hatboro Horsham and essentially salted away the game early in the third quarter. Nworu would later score on a 5-yard run to complete his night with 13 carries for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
After a Kim field goal made it 23-0, Upper Merion found their lone score on the next play from scrimmage with a 66-yard bomb from Quinn to Graham-Mobley.
Graham-Mobley was the star on offense for the Vikings, finishing with 191 all-purpose yards. Quinn finished 3-9 for 115 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT in the game.
Hatboro-Horsham will host Springfield-Montco next Friday night, while Upper Merion travels to Cheltenham. Both games kickoff at 7 p.m.