Indians pick up big road win, with strong second half effort
By Mike McGann, Editor, the Times
FRANCONIA — Maybe it was the lightning. Or maybe, there’s something to this concept of using players only on offense or defense.
Either way, Unionville used a very solid second half effort to defeat a tough Souderton Area team, 29-23, Friday night, in a game delayed for more than 40 minutes at halftime by lightning in the area.
After a somewhat sloppy, sluggish first half when the Indians (1-1) amassed all of 97 total yards offense and trailed 9-8 at the half, a lengthy delay caused by lightning in the area extended halftime to more than 45 minutes. The Unionville team that came out in the second half was explosive and dynamic, amassing 210 total yards in the half.
“What a great game by our kids tonight,” Indians head coach Pat Clark said. “What a phenomenal effort by our kids tonight, I’m so proud of our team. We had to take a long bus ride to play a super physical football team and we handled the lightning delay and we were able to gut out the game-winning drive.”
Senior quarterback Tom Pancoast was dominant, rushing for 193 yards, competing 5 of 12 passes for 71 yards and a score and no interceptions.
The QB was quick to give credit to the guys up front, who found a way to deal with Souderton’s blitz package, which had been a headache in the first half.
“Our offensive line, they were just doing their job (well), they were getting a lot of blocks and picking up the blitz very well,” Pancoast said afterward. “They made it very easy, they were opening up some big big holes, and I only had to win the one-on-one to get some pretty big gains.”
It also looked like Unionville’s players were fresher on the hot, humid night — arguably a big benefit of Clark’s decision to play his players on only one side of the ball.
“Our kids were saying that — our offensive lineman were saying ‘coach, let’s just keep running the ball, this kid’s gassed, or that kid is gassed and let’s keep running the ball,’ “ Clark said. “Our kids up front did a heck of a job with running the ball.”
But the early going was tough: Souderton (1-1) was able to move the ball and beyond one big play, a Pancoast pass to Tim Christopher for a 32-yard score, Unionville’s offense had a lot of trouble in the first half. Only by making the most of a few Souderton mistakes, was Unionville able to keep the deficit to just one point, 9-8, at the half. Actually, the Indians just missed entering halftime with a lead, completing a long hook-and-lateral play down the right sideline, but were stopped short on the Souderton 5, as time in the half expired.
“They blitzed the heck out of us,” Clark said. “And we worked blitz all week, but they got us good in the second quarter, they put us on our heels. We did show a little life late. I thought our kids were really good coming out of halftime. Our older kids talked about ‘let’s not make this another what-if? week’ They were really motivated by the fact that they felt that they let a game slip away last week.”
The Indians got it going in the second half and grabbed the lead on Dom DiBaggio’s 42-yard run and Pancoast’s two-point conversion to give the Indians a 16-9 lead. But after a trade of punts, Souderton put together a 76-yard drive, keyed by Dan Knight’s 15-yard scoring run. With the extra point, the game was tied, 16-16.
And then a bit like the lightning strikes in the distance, Pancoast struck again, ripping off a 61-yard run down the right side line. With the extra point, Unionville held a 23-16 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Anthony Williams exploded for an 80-yard TD return, again tying the game with 6:30 remaining.
But that was where the Indians went to work, launching a methodical, clock consuming drive, and a lot of it was engineered by Pancoast, either with his feet or arm — including a couple of drive-sustaining passes to senior Patch Johnson. Eating more than four minutes off the clock, Pancoast deliver to coup d’grace with a 30-yard run, leaving Sounderton just 1:57 to try and again tie the game.
But the Indians defense was stout, not only stopping Souderton in the final minutes, but pushing it back before forcing a turnover on downs with :40 to go.
With a first win under its belt, Unionville travels to winless Avon Grove next week, which comes off losses to Kennett and Oxford (both of which look like emerging powers). With Coatesville — which lost a heartbreaker to Malvern Prep last night and (2-0) Rustin looming — the potential for a classic “trap” game is a big concern.