The #5 Pirates football team opened the postseason with a first round road game against the #4 Buena Chiefs on Friday night, falling by a score of 28-7 in a South, Group 2 contest.
The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Pirates (7-2) and marked the lowest point total of the 2015 season. Buena (9-1) has now won eight in a row and has a date at #1 West Deptford next week.
“We knew coming in they are a very good football team,” head coach Mario Patrizi said. “They are very good upfront. They run that mid-line offense. We knew coming in, if we couldn’t stop the run, you’re gonna have a problem.”
Buena got on the board first when Sam Crouch, playing in his first game since getting injured on October 16, powered his way four yards into the end zone to cap a 9-play, 70-yard drive, the first of the game for the Chiefs.
“Their kid (Crouch) came back. He hasn’t played in a month, but we knew he was coming back,” Patrizi said. “He’s a tremendous player. They are very talented up front. They’ve got good speed guys. They do a good job executing that offense and when you do that, there’s two things that happen; they keep your offense off the field and they wear down your defense.”
As the Pirates punted on their first two drives, Buena marched downfield on their second, only to have Crouch fumble on the Pirates 20 as Kai Leibfried fell on top of the ball.
The Pirates got the ball to midfield, but could not turn the Buena mistake into points. Cinnaminson’s defense stood tall the rest of the first half, letting the Chiefs pick up five or six yards at a clip, but never allowing the big play.
“They were picking us apart in the first half, five, six, seven, eight yards a pop,” Patrizi said. “Even when they didn’t score, they were taking chunks and keeping our offense off the field. Second half, they wore us down, that’s the bottom line.”
Devon Taylor intercepted a pass from Buena quarterback Tyler Rainear with a leaping grab at his own 10-yard line to prevent a score before the half.
The Chiefs led 7-0 at the break, but found their edge with the running game in the third quarter, scoring three times on the ground on three straight drives to put the game out of reach.
Neither team accumulated a passing yard in the first half as Crouch eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark before the break. Cinnaminson was outgained 172-74 in the first half.
“It wasn’t in our cards tonight. They did a great job taking away our skill players,” Patrizi said. “They played a zone defense, sat back and did a nice job up front. They did a nice job adjusting to what we were throwing at them.”
Buena made it 14-0 when Quadir Albright scampered 37 yards to paydirt. Both Albright (105) and Crouch (168) finished with 100 or more yards on the ground.
Rainear added a 13-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper. The scoring for Buena was capped by Jake Maxwell’s 8-yard run with less than 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Pirates would respond for their lone score of the night on their next drive when quarterback Shaun Davilla eluded multiple Chiefs defenders to toss a 45-yard touchdown pass to CJ Berroa that brought it within 28-7.
Davilla was sacked six times on the night, with two of them coming on the Pirates final drive of the game.
The Pirates were outgained by the Chiefs 367-136 in the loss. Buena did not record a single yard passing in the game as Rainear attempted one pass.
Cinnaminson finishes the 2015 season with the annual Thanksgiving Day game, which will be played at Delran this season with an 11am kickoff.
“We’ll play hard. We’ll play for a league championship,” Patrizi said. “We will watch film, give the kids a couple days off and get right back at it. For most of the seniors, if not all of them, it will be the last time they play a football game. It’s always a special day.”
A win over Delran would give the Pirates a share of the Liberty title with Pemberton and Holy Cross.