Indians beat four-time defending league champs, use dominating ground game
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH — Call it three yards and a cloud of Field Turf.
Unionville used a decidedly old-school offensive, grind it out attack to win a 13-7 battle against West Chester Rustin — the Indians’ first win over of the defending ChesMont American champs in more than four years — and clearing the path for Unionville to win its first conference title since 2007.
“There’s really good football in Chester County,” Unionville head coach Pat Clark said, savoring his team’s win, but clear that the job of winning a title is far from done. “Now that we’ve picked up a little momentum, it’s our job to keep it. There’s no let downs, every week, I think our kids have to rise to the challenge. We’re going to work like heck to make sure we do it.”
Unionville was able to muscle the ball and pound it down the throats of Rustin, taking advantage of a bit more size up front, and a determined effort by a quickly improving offensive line. With the power up front, the Indians were able to run a power dive, almost recalling the leather-helmet era of football, dominating the line of scrimmage, eating the clock and ultimately, putting away the team that has stood between them and the ChesMont American title for four years.
“You go with what you’ve got,” Clark said. “We’ve run the football around here pretty regularly and that’s what was working tonight.”
Doing his best Red Grange impression was senior quarterback Tom Pancoast who battered his way to 200 yards of rushing on 24 carries. Senior Brad Pechin added 70 yards on 11 carries as the Indians (3-1) amassed an impressive 319 yards on the ground against the Golden Knights (3-1).
Was it a case of a team peaking at just the right time?
“Our kids were in a good place,” Clark said. “We’re usually pretty even keeled before a game, but I thought our intensity was at the right spot, we’re weren’t too high. And I think it showed, because we made big plays at the right times. We weren’t out of position, we made the stop when we needed it, we got the first down. Our kids were really focused this week. My assistants did a great job with them.”
It was Pancoast’s 85-yard run that gave Unionville the lead early, but as has been typical in Rustin-Unionville games, the game would be a hard-fought, back and fourth battle.
After Adam Burke tied it for Rustin midway through the second quarter, the game was tied — and the battle was fully joined.
But Unionville, coming out of halftime mounted a powerful drive, pounding the ball 80 yards up the field on 12 plays without throwing the ball once — Pancoast scored his second TD from yard out to cap the drive. But, echoing ghosts of previous matchups between the two teams, when one small play proved pivotal, on the extra point attempt by Sean Barnes, the snap was botched and the Indians had to settle for a seeimingly fragile13-7 lead.
But both the defense and offense came up big — the defense largely shutting down the potent Knights’ offense and the offense, while not scoring, engaging in long, clock eating drives to keep the ball away from Rustin and, maybe more importantly, keep their defense fresh.
But the game may have turned on one play: after turning the ball over deep in Unionville territory at the end of the third quarter, the Indians’ defense turned exceptionally stout, stopping Rustin at its own three to force a turnover on downs.
After that, Pancoast and the Unionville offense were able to drive and eat time off the clock, wiping out most of the fourth quarter, before Rustin could even gets its hands back on the ball. One more strong defensive stand, and Unionville had the victory.
Next for Unionville:
The win sets up the Indians best shot at a division title since 2007, although Oxford, Great Valley and most notably Kennett expect to have something to say about that. This coming week, Unionville hosts Coatesville, coming off a heartbreaking, last-second loss at the hands of Downingtown East, 35-34 — a game that should have state playoff implications.