Unionville’s overpowers Oxford, 40-0

Unionville’s Joe Zubillaga reaches up for an over the shoulder pass from Alex Gorgone for a TD, Friday night. Jim Gill photo.

By Al Tustin, The Times

EAST MARLBOROUGH — On paper, this looked like a close battle: undefeated Unionville facing a vastly improved Oxford team that was coming off a narrow 42-34 loss to powerhouse West Chester Rustin.

But the Indians’ grunts in the trenches — the offensive and defensive lines — took that piece of paper, crumpled it and tossed it into the trash with their dominant play up front, leading their team to an easy 40-0 win in Ches Mont American Division action, Friday night.

While Unionville (5-0, 2-0) got a strong performance from its offensive line — its strong push opened holes for runners Dante Graham (49 yards rushing) and Joe Zubillaga (82 yards rushing) — it was the defensive line, which has struggled at times this year, that really shone.

Unionville’s Alijah Woodall gets in the face of Oxford QB Chandler England. The Indians’ defensive line and linebackers kept constant pressure on the Hornets. Jim Gill photo.

“Defensively, our kids did a really good job,” Unionville head coach Pat Clark said. “They’re a hard offense to defend…they put some points up (last week) and maybe we caught them , they were coming off a big game that was a tight loss and we jumped on them early. I know that that’s a much better football team than they showed tonight.”

The Hornets (3-2, 0-2) never could get its powerful offense untracked, between a power rush (and a number of tipped and blocked passes) and strong sideline to sideline defense. Senior Zach Lawrence was a powerhouse, while Junior Eli Lyons played his best game as a varsity starter. Additionally, the new-look linebacking corps seems to have found itself, turning it a very solid performance.

Tthey (Oxford) are very, very physical on the offensive line,” Clark said. “And we told our guys they really had to do a nice job with the fullback (Brandon Holtz) especially, we didn’t let him get going. Once they could get the ball run, it made them one dimensional.”

Unionvilles Aiden Boyle comes up with an interception. Jim Gill photo.

Oddly for a game that looked to be one of the region’s top matchups of the night — NBC10 was there to shoot game highlights — it was almost over before the Oxford buses engines cooled off.

After Unionville elected to kick to start the game, the Hornet’s offense got right into gear and marched down the field behind the running of Tim Faber and the passing of QB Chandler England to the Unionville 15. But it was there that things began to unravel for Oxford.

After a couple of incomplete passes, England was penalized for intentional grounding, which stalled the drive at the Unionville 25 and forced a turnover on downs.

Sensing an opportunity, the Indians immediately marched down the field themselves, on the back of QB Alex Gorgone’s passing (6-of-10 passing for 96 yards and 2 TDs) and Graham’s power running. Zubillaga capped the drive with an eight-yard run. With Dominic Braithwaite’s extra point, Unionville grabbed an early 7-0 lead.

And that’s when things got really bad for Oxford.

Following the kickoff, England attempted a lateral pass — which fell short and bounced into the arms of Unionville’s Alijah Woodall, who raced 23 yards for the score — exactly :14 seconds after the previous score. Even with a blocked extra point try, the Indians’ 13-0 seemed to put Oxford into a deep hole.

Which promptly got worse.

After England was picked off by Aidan Boyle three plays later at the Oxford 24, Graham was a able to cap a short drive with a 16-yard run to make the score 19-0 in the final seconds of the first quarter.

Unionville mounted two more scoring drives in the second quarter, looking to put the game away. Gorgone hit Zubilllaga with a beautiful over the shoulder pass from 31 yards out for a score to make it 26-0. JT Hower scored on  24-yard end around to push the score to 33-0 at the half.

The Indians put the game away on the opening drive of the second half, marching 79 yards and eating nearly six minutes off the clock — again capped by a Gorgone to Zubillaga scoring pass, this time from 22 yards out to make it 40-0. 56-0

From there, both teams began to substitute in younger players, essentially putting the contest out of reach.

For Oxford, they must rebound to get ready to face a much improved Sun Valley (3-2, 1-1) team, which beat Kennett 42-21, Friday night.

Unionville, meanwhile, travels to Octorara to face a 2-3 Braves team that has been battered the last two weeks, losing to Avon Grove, 56-0 two weeks ago and then falling to Rustin 56-7 last night.

With 4-1, 1-1 Rustin (Oct. 6) and 5-0 Downingtown East (coming off an impressive 34-7 win over previously undefeated Bishop Shanahan) on Oct. 13, looming, Clark doesn’t feel that his team will overlook Octorara.

“We try to play them one at a time,” Clark said. “We want to be 1-0 next week. That is our only goal.”

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