Second straight strong effort for Pancoast at quarterback
By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
OXFORD — Who needs Peyton Manning?
On a night when Unionville found its typically powerful run game stymied by a burly and aggressive Oxford defensive front, junior quarterback Tom Pancoast put up his second straight stellar passing game to lead the Indians to a solid 27-7 win Thursday night.
Pancoast torched the Hornets, completing 10-of-13 for 163 yards and two touchdowns, the second straight week that the quarterback proved to be a dangerous weapon. A week ago, Pancoast completed 10-12 for 129 yards in knocking off Coatesville.
“I thought Tommy threw it well,” Unionville head coach Pat Clark said. “We were able to get to the perimeter a little bit and make them run.”
And this was exactly the kind of game that could have been a problem for Unionville (5-1, 1-1 Ches-Mont American) after an emotional win over Coatesville.
“We spent a lot of energy last week and you talk about it with the kids and they want to do their best…but you worry about a let down,” Clark said. “I was real proud of the way our team responded and took care of business tonight.”
Get used to that refrain if Unionville is able to continue onto a postseason berth. After facing winless Sun Valley next week, the last three games of the regular season are all against up-and-coming programs like Oxford’s: Great Valley (3-3), Octorara (4-2) and Kennett (4-2) — and in the finale, both teams might be battling for a playoff spot. A let down in any of those games could prove fatal to the Indians’ District 1 hopes.
And at times, it did appear that the Indians were struggling a bit in the battle of the trenches — and the usually powerful running game was limited: Richard Sampson was the leading rusher with 12 carries for 53 yards, while Pancoast had 38 yards on 11 carries. Of course, it didn’t help that the much-improved Oxford defense was stacking the box and using a lot of run blitz schemes to stymie the run game.
“They’re a physical, aggressive team,” Clark said. “They’re a big blitz team. And we worked hard on blitz all week. When we blocked their blitz, we moved the ball. When we didn’t catch the blitz, we didn’t move the ball. That’s why we had to go to the air a little bit.”
It was clear that Oxford, under second-year head coach Mike Pietlock, is no longer one of the weaker teams in the Ches-Mont American Division. Despite the disparity in score, the fiesty Hornets played tough aggressive football throughout the game — and the game never really became comfortable for Unionville.
“They’re a much-improved football team,” Clark said. “They gave us a good battle for the entire game. We were just fortunate to pull away.
The Indians were a bit sluggish coming out of the gate — at least on offense — and it looked like Oxford (3-3, 1-2) might take advantage of it — driving deep into Indians’ territory, only to stall against a stiffened Unionville defense, leaving with nothing more than a missed field goal attempt by Julio Rios.
“I thought, defensively, we were outstanding,” Clark said. “We took the big play away from them. They tried their shots deep and we were able and we got them covered up.”
After sleepwalking through most of the half, the Indians awoke suddenly in the final seconds of the quarter, grabbing an Oxford fumble with just :33 left in the half. Pancoast immediately hit Doug Ott with a 23-yard scoring pass to give Unionville a 7-0 halftime lead.
The second half was an entirely different matter, as Pancoast used the air attack to shred the Hornets — leading to scores on three straight drives.
“I thought our tempo was really good in the second half,” Clark said. “We had some guys get banged up and we had some younger guys step in and it was a real team effort tonight.”
The Indians took their first possession of the second half 71 yards, scoring when Pancoast hit Sampson with a 24-yard scoring pass. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Pancoast again hit Samspon with a long pass, 38 yards, setting up the quarterback’s eventual one-yard scoring run.
Junior Brad Pechin continued to see more carries and keyed the final drive — after Unionville took over the ball on downs on the Oxford 20 — and hammered the ball in on three carries, scoring from seven yards out.