Elizabeth Forward locks in with shutout of Mt. Pleasant

Friday, October 11, 2019 | 11:09 PM

Mike Collodi has preached a fast, physical style of play since he began his coaching tenure at Elizabeth Forward in 2015.

And it’s clear his message continues to resonate with his players.

The Warriors put Collodi’s two-word mantra into effect Friday night, ending their two-game losing streak with a 24-0 victory over Mt. Pleasant in Big East Conference play at Warriors Stadium.

EF (5-2, 4-2), which entered the game having suffered back-to-back losses at Derry and North Catholic, used a stellar defensive effort to smother the Vikings (3-5, 2-4), limiting them to just 109 total yards.

The Warriors defense also forced a pair of turnovers, turning both of them into second-half points.

“We’ve had some great defensive efforts the last couple of weeks and just fell short,” Collodi said of his team, which limited North Catholic to a season-low 12 points last week.

“We really had a great gameplan coming in, and our guys just executed. We were flying around, being physical, playing fast and that’s our M.O.”

DaVontay Brownfield and Chase Whatton stood out as leaders for the Warriors defense. Brownfield led the team with nine tackles and added a forced fumble, and Whatton had seven tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack of Mt. Pleasant quarterback Asher O’Connor.

“I think last week really sparked us,” Whatton said. “We weren’t really getting too much pressure off the ball (against North Catholic), so I think this week we stepped it up a lot.”

Elizabeth Forward forced Mt. Pleasant to punt on its first three drives before the Vikings turned the ball over on downs on their fourth and final drive of the first half.

But the Warriors had issues of their own on offense, with a Nico Mrvos interception early in the first quarter and a turnover on downs and a punt on their second and third drives.

EF finally was able to cash in on its fourth and final drive of the half as a 39-yard run by Mrvos, who finished with 13 carries for 80 yards, helped the Warriors get deep into Vikings territory.

While the home team was unable to get into the end zone, Andrew Smith capped a 10-play drive with a 26-yard field goal that made it 3-0 at halftime.

“Nico’s play was huge. We’re a momentum team, so when we have it, we’re hard to stop and hard to beat,” Collodi said. “Once we started getting that momentum, we started to feed off one another. We were just clicking tonight on all cylinders.”

EF extended its lead midway through the third quarter on a Mt. Pleasant miscue.

With the Vikings at their own 20-yard line, Brownfield forced a fumble by O’Connor, which was scooped up and taken into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown by Nicholas Murphy.

The Warriors held a 10-0 lead after three quarters before adding a pair of touchdowns in the fourth.

After a blocked punt by Whatton was recovered by Brownfield deep in Mt. Pleasant territory, Mrvos connected with Whatton from 7 yards to make it 17-0 after a Smith extra point.

Mrvos completed 5 of 12 passes for 69 yards. Whatton caught four passes for 48 yards.

Mt. Pleasant threatened on its next drive, marching to EF’s 15-yard line thanks in part to a 52-yard pass from O’Connor to Jacob Johnson.

A fumbled snap, however, pushed the Vikings back 13 yards. One play later, O’Connor was picked off by Jacob Prah in the end zone, ending the Vikings’ best scoring opportunity of the night. O’Connor completed 4 of 11 passes for 84 yards in the loss.

The Warriors were forced to punt on the fifth play of their ensuing drive, but a roughing-the-kicker penalty gave them new life.

After a combined 30 yards on the ground from Evan Lewis and Nick Hunnell, Kyle Flournoy punched it in the end zone from 18 yards to cap the scoring.

EF finished with 297 yards of total offense and collected 228 rushing yards. Joining Mrvos with impressive performances on the ground were Flournoy (11 carries for 71 yards) and Lewis (seven carries for 57 yards).

“Mt. Pleasant is a really good team,” Collodi said. “We knew coming in that they had a great defense. We executed on offense and were able to run the ball with numerous guys. You can’t really focus on one person.”

Elizabeth Forward hosts Uniontown next week, and Mt. Pleasant plays at home against Freeport.

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