Unionville needs stirring comeback to beat Kennett, 35-21

Unionville's Connor Gades breaks away from Kennett defenders en route to a 33-yard touchdown.

“I thought when we got the drive, we got settled down and we figured out that we were able to run the ball on them,” Clark said. “We’re a little more experienced up front then they were and we were able to run the ball.”

And so they did — Gades and senior tailback Mason Popham were able to grind out another long drive, this one starting from the Unionville nine, with Gades scoring from one yard out, set up by a brilliant 20-yard run by Popham that fell just short of the goal line.

The left the game tied at the half — which is the way it stayed until the the fourth quarter when a tense, tight contest turned into a wild and wooly finish.

Tomasetti led his Kennett squad down the field on a fairly methodical drive that ate up nearly half of the final quarter and left the Blue Demons leading, 21-14.

But once again Gades, hobbled with a bad ankle that would see him on crutches after the game, and Popham seemingly refused to let their final game at Unionville go without a fight. Gades hit a long pass to Rich Kaiser down the right sideline to the Kennett 25 and then the two seniors shared the running load, with Popham scoring from nine out to tie the game with 5:27 left.

The Indians unleashed a furious defense against Tomasetti and managed to force a three-and-out punt — and then pulled off what may have been the play of the season with the game on the line.

Gades hit Doug Ott with a short pass in the right sideline flat and he immediately pitched to Popham, who then scored on a 33-yard run. In old school terms, it was the old “Hook and Ladder” play and Unionville ran it to perfection. The extra point gave the Indians a 28-21 lead — but no room for anyone to put away the Rolaids just yet.

Tomasetti fumbled on the next possession and for a moment, it looked like clear sailing for the first time all day for Unionville — until two plays later, Popham lost the ball on a handoff from Tom Pancoast, who replaced the injured Gades at quarterback. One more time the furious Indians defense needed to rise to the occasion.

The exclamation point came when Unionville’s Jerry Rassias clobbered Tomasetti for a six-yard loss — backing up Kennett and seemingly shaking up the junior QB. Two more pass attempts went nowhere and Unionville took over the ball on the Kennett 9. The Indians were able to muscle the ball in for another score in closing seconds — more or less looking to eat the clock — Pancoast scoring on a dive, to give Unionville the 35-21 lead.

The win, obviously was satisfying, if not harrowing at times. But Clark couldn’t hide a little disappointment about not returning the District 1 4A playoffs — even if he made it clear he was fiercely proud of this team which posted a seven-win season.

“We controlled everything that we can control. We know from day one we know we have competitive games up front and we’re going to have to win a bunch of games and our kids did that — that’s what they’ve done the last six years. We didn’t get the numbers break this year, but that doesn’t make us any lesser of a team. This group battled through more injuries than any group we’ve had in the last seven years. There was a lot of opportunity to slip and we never slipped and that’s a credit to our kids.”

Check back Sunday for video highlights of Unionville’s victory.

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