University Prep rallies to topple Allderdice
University Prep's defense may not reach the level it did last season, when the Wildcats shut out nine opponents en route to the City League title.
Then again, with the way quarterback Akil Young is playing, good might be good enough.
Young threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns Friday night, and the Wildcats' defense clamped down on Allderdice for the final three quarters of a come-from-behind, 35-15 victory at Cupples Stadium.
“I was really proud of our defense tonight,” University Prep coach Lou Berry said. “We knew we had to stop (Allderdice running back) Patrick Ferguson, and he was very tough in that first half. But our kids stepped up, really embraced the challenge, and I thought we played phenomenal on the defensive side of the ball.”
Ferguson, who entered the game with 535 rushing yards on the season, wound up with 52 on the night — just 4 of which came after halftime.
Allderdice (2-4, 1-2) took an early 15-0 lead after a blocked punt return for a touchdown and an 11-yard touchdown run by Ferguson, but the game swung in University Prep's favor late in the first half.
Allderdice punter Alex Schneider couldn't field a snap cleanly in his end zone and had to fall on the ball for a safety. The ensuing free kick failed to go the necessary 10 yards, and University Prep (3-1, 3-0) took advantage of the short field when Young hit Nicholas Stallworth for a 16-yard touchdown to trim the lead to 15-8 at halftime.
“It gave us a lot of confidence going into halftime knowing that we still possessed the ability to move the ball against their tough defense,” Berry said. “We just knew that it was going to take some patience on our end.”
University Prep forced a three-and-out to begin the second half and cut its deficit to one when Ryan Daniels scored on a 4-yard run out of the wildcat.
After stopping Allderdice on fourth down on the ensuing possession, University Prep marched 53 yards in six plays and scored on another 4-yard run by Daniels.
Young capped the scoring with fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Marcus Johnson and Noah Stewart. Young's numbers could have been even better were it not for some drops by his receivers.
“We had to form a new identity, and we definitely had the confidence in Akil Young to get that done because of the work that he's put in in the offseason,” Berry said. “With the new scheme, it's going to take a lot of patience because kids at the skill positions are relatively new. But he's just been a tremendous leader.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org