Among the short list of things that Dapree Bryant did not do Friday night was set the Southeastern Pennsylvania record career touchdown catches.
He just tied that.
Bryant did just about everything else in leading a battered and bruised Coatesville team to a 34-21 victory over Unionville on a clear, cool evening in Kennett Square.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Bryant scored three touchdowns in three ways, with a record-tying reception, a punt return, and an interception return that sealed the victory in the final seconds of play.
Bryant, a Villanova recruit, tossed in strong defense from his cornerback position, hard running as the Red Raiders were attempting to work the clock, and a 52-yard punt that changed field position in the third quarter.
And he returned a kickoff 85 yards for another apparent touchdown but that score was nullified by a penalty.
“I’ll do whatever I have to do to help the team win,” Bryant said after Coatesville, the No. 4 team in the Inquirer Southeastern Pennsylvania rankings, improved to 3-1 with its third consecutive victory.
Bryant tied the Southeastern Pennsylvania mark for career touchdown receptions on a 39-yard catch-and-run on a slip-screen pass from senior quarterback Ricky Ortega midway in the second quarter.
The touchdown catch was the 43rd of Bryant’s career, tying the mark set in 1972 by Upper Merion’s Bobby Thomas, who played at the University of Nebraska.
“It means a lot,” Bryant said of tying the record. “But I don’t care about records. I care about helping the team win.”
Bryant made big plays at the beginning and at the end of the game. He returned a punt 70 yards for a score on the fourth play of the contest and jumped a pass in the flat and returned it 30 yards for another touchdown with 10 seconds left on the clock.
“He just makes plays,” said Coatesville coach Matt Ortega, Ricky’s father. “We faced some adversity and he stepped up and made plays when we needed him to. That’s what a great player is going to do.”
Senior quarterback Blake Charlton threw three touchdown passes, including two to senior wide receiver Stefan Twombly, for Unionville (2-3).
“Hats off to them,” Matt Ortega said of Unionville. “We had trouble on third down. Their quarterback made some plays with his legs and they gave us some trouble.”
It was a costly victory for Coatesville, the defending District 1 Class 6A champion.
Ricky Ortega, a senior star who like Bryant is a Villanova recruit, aggravated an ankle injury with around two minutes left in the third quarter and left the game for good. It was the second game in a row that Ortega was forced to leave early because of the injury.
“We’re going to re-evaluate, maybe sit him a week so he can heal,” Matt Ortega said. “He keeps re-injuring it.”
Said Bryant: “It’s tough because he can practice but then in the games he keeps getting hurt again.”
Coatesville also lost senior defensive back Amir Kennedy to an apparent arm injury in the first half. The game was delayed for several minutes while a stretcher was wheeled on the field for Kennedy.
The injury was a jolt to Bryant, who knelt next to Kennedy and held his hand while waiting for the stretcher.
“That’s like my brother,” Bryant said of Kennedy.
The record-tying catch was Bryant’s only reception of the first half as Coatesville’s offense struggled with penalties and an inconsistent running game.
In addition, Ortega’s injured ankle limited his ability to set his feet and deliver the football with his normal accuracy.
“We found a way,” Matt Ortega said. “Dapree made plays and we feed off of him.”
Coatesville 7 13 7 7 -- 34
Unionville 0 14 0 7 -- 21
C: Dapree Bryant 70 punt return (Pierce Hadzor kick)
C: Ricky Ortega 17 run (kick fail)
U: Stefan Twombly 76 pass from Blake Charlton (Twombly kick)
C: Bryant 39 pass from Ortega (Hadzor kick)
U: Twombly 25 pass from Charlton (Twombly kick)
C: Abdul Stewart 21 pass from Ortega (Hadzor kick)
U: Luke Schriver 9 pass from Charlton (Twombly kick)