Monday night football in Lindenwold looked a whole lot like Monday Night Football on the big LCD at home—50 passing attempts and two offenses doing everything possible to find the end zone, and a whole load of points.
But it was West Deptford’s old-school effort in the trenches and in the running game that proved more effective, as Lindenwold’s high-flying attack never translated into points in the Eagles’ lopsided, 56-8 win Monday night.
While Lions sophomore quarterback Malik Muldrow took a playground approach, launching an almost absurd 46 passes into the cool night air—completing 30 of them for 285 yards—the Eagles racked up 299 yards on the ground, largely behind the strength of Gerald Owens’ 110 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
And more importantly, West Deptford’s steady ground attack shifted the momentum needle inexorably in its direction, as Lindenwold couldn’t find an answer for any of the eight backs the Eagles handed off to through the night.
New starting quarterback Alex Hilbmann said everything came together about as well as it could in the first game of the season, and had high praise for how his teammates were able to dominate on the offensive side.
“The line was making great blocks, our running backs were running great and we gained yards and got the touchdowns,” he said.
West Deptford leaped out to a 15-0 lead midway through the first quarter off an 11-yard touchdown pass from Hilbmann to Shai Mumford and Owens’ first TD of the night, a 7-yarder set up by Hilbmann’s 29-yard completion to Josh Cornelius.
Lindenwold struck back near the end of the first quarter behind Muldrow’s quick-strike passing that frequently saw the quarterback pulling the trigger almost immediately after the snap. That set up a 1-yard dive by Jamal Clark, and the two-point conversion pulled the Lions within a touchdown.
The Eagles almost answered on the ensuing kickoff, but Isaiah Easterling’s return was spoiled at the 1-yard line when he was stripped of the ball and Lindenwold recovered for a touchback.
Instead, it took a few minutes longer to gain some separation. Mumford came up with a key fourth-down sack of Muldrow to force a turnover on downs, which the Eagles turned into another Owens touchdown.
From there, it was on to a rushing attack that resembled a hydra, and Lindenwold didn’t have any firebrands to drop any of the heads. Besides Owens’ two TDs, the Eagles got two scores from Devin Bates, who racked up 39 yards, a touchdown from Josh Cornelius to close out the first half and two touchdowns from Kevin DeCaesar, who piled up 43 yards in mop-up duty.
Defensively, the Eagles were able to settle down after the first quarter and eventually get a handle on Muldrow's passing—Easterling came up with a pair of interceptions, and Hilbmann picked off a third—to limit the damage.
“Just getting that first game out of the way against a team that’s as athletic as them I think is a step in the right direction for us,” head coach Clyde Folsom said. “This was a great game for us to springboard us into Friday.”
That’s when the Eagles will host Woodbury in the home opener, a game with plenty of meaning. Besides being an important Colonial Conference clash, it could potentially be Folsom’s 200th coaching victory.
Both Folsom and Hilbmann said the Thundering Herd, which smashed Collingswood, 42-7 over the weekend, is a team to be reckoned with this season.
Though it’ll be a short week to prepare, thanks to storms that pushed the Lindenwold game back from Saturday, West Deptford came out of the win Monday night without any injuries, and Hilbmann said they’ll move quickly to get set for Woodbury, the only team besides Haddonfield that threatened the Eagles last season.
“We’re going to prepare for them just like any other team, and I hope we come out on top,” he said.