Unionville struggles in opener, falls 35-14

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Offense, defense fail to get in synch most of the game

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Unionville sophomore Brendan Boyle, pressed into duty at quarterback for the Indians, looked sharp early, but the Indians struggled in nearly all phases of the game, losing to Garnet Valley, 35-14, Friday night. Jim Gill photo.

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
CONCORD — For one quarter, everything seemed to be set up right for Unionville, Friday night, opening its 2013 season at Garnet Valley.

Sophomore quarterback Brendan Boyle marched the team 76-yards, ate up most of the first quarter with the kind of ground-pounding drive so familiar to Indians’ fans during the decade of head coach Pat Clark at the helm of the program.

And then, in a seeming instant, it all fell apart.

A disastrous second quarter, which featured struggles in virtually all phases of the game turned what looked to be a close game into a rout, as the Jaguars easily won, 35-14.

“We hurt ourselves in so many different ways tonight,” Clark said afterward. “It was really disappointing. When we look that unprepared, I have to look at myself in the mirror first. We were just out executed in every phase of the game.”

Unionville’s defense struggled all night to contain Garnet running back Jake Erving — who ran for 188 yards on the night. And it took just one play — the Jags’ first, when Erving broke right and raced 70 yards to tie the game — for things to start slipping away for the Indians, setting up a second quarter meltdown the team could not recover from.

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Unionville’s Dom DiBiaggio battled for yards against Garnet Valley, Friday. Jim Gill photo.

“It was big plays,” Clark said. “We didn’t adjust well early.”

After Unionville’s next drive stalled, the Indians looked to take advantage after Garnet Valley quarterback Christian Portale fumbled on the first play from scrimmage in the opening moments of the second quarter.

It was at that moment, the Indians seemed to find themselves in quicksand.

“The first drive, we were great and then we kind of fell apart,” Clark said. “And I don’t have an answer as to why our execution dropped in all phases of the game.”

A chop block penalty forced them into a 1-and-25 situation and two plays later, Boyle was picked off by Brandon Dowd at midfield. The Jags immediately pounded the ball down the field, grabbing the lead for good on a nine-play drive, 14-7.

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Unionville’s Garrett Scargill races for yardage in the first half against Garnet Valley. Jim Gill photo.

In a hole, three plays later, Garnet Valley again picked off Boyle — a sophomore pressed into duty to replace junior Alex Pechin, who sat for missing practice — taking over the ball at the Jags’ 11. And then Erving struck again — racing 79 yards down the right sideline (only a hustle play by Elan Nash saved a score).  Two plays later, Vincent Razzano scored and the Indians found themselves down quickly, 21-7.

Still, with a little over four minutes left, it looked like Unionville’s nightmare fog lift. Boyle directed a strong drive, hitting Nash and David Daly for big gains, marching down to the Garnet Valley 16 in the final minute of the half. But Boyle threw his third interception of the quarter, with :15 left.

The third quarter started out better — as the Indians defense did something it struggled to do most of the night, stop the Garnet running game cold. But the offense stalled, although senior backs Garrett Scargill and Dom DiBiaggio fought yards, there weren’t a lot of holes for them to work through, and the Indians turned the ball over on downs at midfield.

And again, Irving and the Jags just pounded the ball up the field, mounting a grinding drive for a score, all but putting the game out of reach at 28-7.

After Boyle suffered a dislocated finger, Pechin — the team’s only other varsity quarterback — took over, but showed some rust, being away from the team as a member of the KAU Senior League World Series team. Even with Pechin in, the Indians could only muster a three-and-out, as the junior failed to connect on his first two passes.

There was a brief glimmer of hope, when Chris Kohler picked off a Portale pass, but Pechin, who struggled to find his rhythm — 0-for-4 with an interception on his first two series — was picked off right away by Frankie White on the Unionville 7, leading to a quick and crushing Jags’ score to make it 35-7.

While Pechin did manage to engineer one scoring drive, a nine-play, 67 yard march, capped by DiBiaggio’s four-yard run, the junior was 5-of-16 for 83 yards passing in the second half.

With Sounderton coming up next Saturday morning, Clark said he and his staff know they have a lot to work on.

“Every phase of the game, we have to get better,” Clark said. “We need to coach better, we need to execute better, we have to not get penalties at key times. We have to do everything better from the coaches down to the kids.”

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