Paul Jennings' one-yard fumble return for a touchdown didn’t just represent the signature on a masterpiece of a performance by the La Salle defense.

It didn’t just put the finishing touch on La Salle’s 27-0 victory over Archbishop Wood Saturday in a clash of Philadelphia Catholic League Class 6A powers.

It rang the dinner bell for some husky, hungry linemen.

“Steak dinner,” La Salle senior lineman Pat Troy said of the reward for the defensive line for scoring a touchdown. “We’ve been waiting all year for a [big] man touchdown, and we finally got one.”

Jennings' first touchdown since he was a running back as an eighth-grader was the highlight of a dominant performance by La Salle’s defense, which held Archbishop Wood to minus-8 yards in the second half until the Vikings put together a pair of first downs on the final drive of the game.

Senior quarterback Gavin Daly led the offense for La Salle (5-1), scoring three touchdowns on runs of 48, 16 and 17 yards. Daly finished with 114 yards on 11 carries, while junior running back Sam Brown added 92 yards on 15 carries as the Explorers controlled the line of scrimmage on a warm, sunny afternoon at Wissahickon High School.

“Our guys were really dialed in,” La Salle coach John Steinmetz said. “They really wanted this game, especially the seniors.”

La Salle, the No. 3 team in the Inquirer Top 10, likely will play one more game this season, according to Steinmetz. The coach is trying to arrange for a matchup for this coming weekend.

La Salle defensive end Paul Jennings celebrates after picking up a fumble and scoring a touchdown against Archbishop Wood in the fourth quarter on Saturday.
LOU RABITO / Staff
La Salle defensive end Paul Jennings celebrates after picking up a fumble and scoring a touchdown against Archbishop Wood in the fourth quarter on Saturday.

Senior Andrew Minners ran 18 times for 59 yards for fourth-ranked Archbishop Wood (3-2), which is scheduled to play Malvern Prep next weekend.

Daly shook loose for a 48-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.

“Coach told me before the game I might be running more today,” Daly said. “It was great to hear that. I love running the football.”

Daly would add two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. By then, La Salle’s defense had established control behind a swarming line led by Jennings, Troy, and Tim Barrett as well as linebackers Christian Thompson and Abdul Carter.

Jennings, a Penn recruit, stamped an exclamation point on the victory with his scoop-and-score, tumbling into the end zone to the delight of his linemates.

“That was awesome to see,” Barrett said.

Archbishop Wood 0 0 0 0 – 0

La Salle 0 7 0 20 – 27

L: Gavin Daly 48 run (Santiago Sturla kick)

L: Daly 16 run (Sturla kick)

L: Daly 17 run (Sturla kick)

L: Paul Jennings 1 fumble return (kick fail)