Solid 43-18 win keeps Indians in hunt for ChesMont American title
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH — That was a bit more like it.
A week after a devastating loss to Coatesville, Unionville bounced back in fine form to dominate Oxford, 43-18, Friday night.
The victory puts the Indians on top of the ChesMont American, undefeated in conference play and in control of their destiny in the hunt for the league title. But the effort is going to very much be a week-by-week process, Unionville head coach Pat Clark made clear Friday night.
“I thought we were very focused,” Unionville head coach Pat Clark said. “The reality is that we have one more step to take next week. This was a step tonight and we have one more step to take next week and we’re going to try to inch closer to a league title, one week at a time.”
Right from the first play of the game, when quarterback Tom Pancoast hit senior Tim Christopher with a 67-yard scoring pass, it was clear that the Indians (4-2, 2-0) came out with a better approach and mindset. With the Hornets (3-3, 0-3) blitzing and often keeping 11 men near the line of scrimmage on defense, Clark said he had needed to open things up to take advantage.
“We knew the challenge would be if they could blitz us on defense,” Clark said. “And if we could handle the blitz, we’d be okay. I thought our kids did a great job with the blitz and sometimes when they blitz you, you have to take your shots downfield.”
It was also a team effort — Pancoast threw for a pair of TDs, ran for two more, but Christeropher scored three, while Dom DiBiaggio rushed for an impressive 102 yards on just five carries. The explosion offense came largely in a second-quarter burst, when the Indians seemed to totally shake off the echoes of last week’s loss and focus on the task at hand. As a team, the Indians wracked up some 371 yards of total offense.
But that first TD — before most folks had even settled into their seats — that set the tone. Pancoast hit Christopher over the middle deep and the speedy senior raced the rest of the way for the score.
“I thought we could get them, play-action on the first play, and Tim and Tommy did the job,” Clark said.
That play was just an example, as it turned out, of the Indians being ready to take advantage if the Hornets packed the line of scrimmage.
“When you look at film and they have 11 guys within six yards of the ball — I’m dumb, but I’m not stupid, even I’ll throw the ball when they have 11 guys down,” said Clark, joking a bit about his reputation for favoring power, grind it out football. “I felt we had good one-on-one match ups, good protection and Tommy delivered.”
Oxford, behind talented junior quarterback Ethan Herb, managed to respond with a 66-yard drive, capped by Herb hitting Josh Davis with a scoring pass, to close to within 7-6.
And after an exchange of possessions where it appeared both defenses found their footing and the game would settle in as a tough battle. But then Pancoast hit Christopher with another long scoring strike — this time, from 63 yards — and the Unionville offense started to file on all cylinders. After getting the ball back, the Indians drove quickly — six plays, 74 yards — for what would prove to be the winning score, when Christopher scored his third TD of the game. A flag on the point after gave Unionville a short two-point, and Pancoast converted, to give it 22-6 lead at the half.
A Pancoast interception of an Herb pass — the senior QB/Db would pick off two passes in the second half — set up his first TD of night, a one yard plunge, to push the score to 29-6. Pancoast added another score — another one-yard run —and Brad Pechin plunged in from two out to cap the scoring.
Next week, the Indians travel to 4-1 Sun Valley, which also undefeated in ChesMont American play, heading into Saturday’s contest at Kennett. And while Unionville controls its destiny — win out and it will win the ChesMont American league title — Clark said he knows it will be a tough road.
“Their kids are tough and physical,” Clark said of the resurgent Sun Valley program. “If they beat Kennett, that’s two undefeated teams in the league going at it next week. They’re a good football team. Our league has done a great job of getting better. There’s nobody easy left on our schedule. We’re going to have to rise to the challenge every week.”