As a three-time Catholic League wrestling champion, Anthony Piscopo will likely concentrate on that sport at an Ivy League school. But the La Salle senior also shines on the gridiron.
With Piscopo helping to clog the running lanes, the Explorers held Malvern Prep's high-octane spread offense to two touchdowns and triumphed, 21-14, in a nonleague showdown Friday night at Upper Dublin.
With the Friars at midfield on their final possession, sophomore Garrett Zobel and Piscopo, who can play either tackle or end, notched back-to-back sacks to extinguish the comeback bid.
"We knew Malvern had a couple of dangerous running backs," Piscopo said. "We just tried to get off our blocks, make our way into the backfield, and make plays."
Bouncing back from a 32-12 loss at nationally ranked DeMatha Catholic (Md.), La Salle improved to 3-1. Malvern, which had outscored its first two foes by a combined 71-0, slipped to 2-1.
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Piscopo is the second in his family to suit up for La Salle. His brother, Mike, made his mark as an outside linebacker.
Against the Friars, the difference was Chris Ferguson's 7-yard, third-quarter touchdown pass to wideout Troy Holland. It came courtesy of a miscue, as a La Salle punt bounced off the heel of a Malvern player and the Explorers recovered the ball 21 yards from paydirt.
Piscopo and Zobel were joined up front by Matt McDermott, Chris Maloney, and Ryan Schutta. Maloney, a sophomore end, recorded a pass deflection and a third-quarter sack. "He's been unbelievable for us," Piscopo said. "He's played his heart out."
In the opening minute of the second quarter, Syaire Madden's 8-yard touchdown run put La Salle ahead, 14-7. Ferguson's 23-yard connection with swift handyman Nick Rinella set up the tally.
The Friars opened the game with an 11-play, 72-yard scoring drive that was capped by Nick Maras' 14-yard strike to Ian Murray.
La Salle quickly evened things. Rinella turned a short toss from Ferguson into a 52-yard gain to the Malvern 25. Soon after, Ferguson scored from the 1.
Malvern Prep 7 0 7 0 - 14
La Salle 7 7 7 0 - 21
MP: Ian Murray 14 pass from Nick Maras (Garrett Reilly kick)
LS: Chris Ferguson 1 run (Matt Savage kick)
LS: Syaire Madden 8 run (Savage kick)
MP: Recovered blocked punt in end zone (Reilly kick)
LS: Troy Holland 7 pass from Ferguson (Savage kick)