Moments after scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, the Collingswood High School football team put itself in position to get the football right back, twice forcing Haddon Township into third downs.
Twice the Panthers committed penalties.
The mistakes proved costly as the Hawks put together a 69-yard drive—aided by 35 yards in Collingswood penalties—capped off by an 11-yard touchdown run by Dan Clemente for the winning score in a 14-7 victory Saturday.
After sophomore DeRon Maxwell's 10-yard touchdown run, the Panthers were ready to drop the hammer, but a pair of personal foul penalties and an offside call kept the Hawks' ensuing drive alive as they marched down the field and answered right back.
“Haddon Township did a nice job of moving the ball and getting first downs, but when it all came down to it, it was the big penalties that kept the chains moving,” Collingswood coach Jack McConnell said. “That’s what disappoints me the most is we got tired and we got sloppy.”
The loss drops the Panthers to 0-2.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Maxwell, who finished with 68 yards rushing. “We have to stick together and work as a team. Obviously we didn’t because we came out with a loss.”
Haddon Township took an early 6-0 lead when quarterback Jake Campbell hit Nick Marino in the corner of the end zone with a 25-yard strike on fourth-and-3. The extra point failed, keeping the advantage at six points.
Collingswood put itself in prime position to tie the game or take the lead midway through the second quarter, penetrating inside the Hawks 20, but sophomore quarterback Jordan Wallace was intercepted by Marino at the four yard line. Wallace finished with three interceptions, including two by Marino.
Collingswood’s best drive came in its first possession of the third quarter. Maxwell connected with Copeland on a 17-yard pass down to the 22 and Allen Valentine carried the ball seven yards for a first down inside the 15. Maxwell finished the drive with the Panthers' first touchdown of the season.
“The upside is we are going to get better and keep working,” McConnell said. “We have a young quarterback and some young guys that have to keep learning.”
Haddon Township was able to take six minutes off the clock with a long drive in the fourth quarter, but the drive ultimately failed with 2:10 left in regulation when Campbell was sacked at the Panthers’ 30 on fourth down.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Maxwell took a pitch and heaved it downfield, connecting with Copeland for a 30-yard gain on the halfback pass. It was the longest play of the game for either team.
“We have been working on that all week,” Maxwell said. “Steven Copeland got open and I just launched the ball.”
Collingswood was only able to get three yards closer, though, as the drive came to an end when a fourth-down desperation pass was intercepted.
The Panthers will look to record their first win of the year when they travel to Overbrook September 22.
“We just have to keep teaching them fundamentals and the game, and getting them to have a better understanding of what we expect,” McConnell said. “I think if we do that, and keep getting better each week things will work themselves out.
"I tell the seniors to enjoy getting better and enjoy playing as a team and then hopefully the scoreboard starts to turn around for us,” he said.