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Fleetwood Rallies to Stun Tribe
Written by Jake Hallman, Correspondent
2018-09-20

            It was deva vu all over again last Friday night for Tom Hontz and the Upper Perkiomen football team.

            Much like their contest two weeks ago, the Indians saw an early first-quarter

Upper Perk's Colin Funk breaks up a pass to a Tiger's 

receiver in last Friday night's game at Fleetwood.

lead, coupled with a defensive shutout, dissolve down the stretch. This time it was at Fleetwood in a game originally scheduled at home but had to be moved due to the closure of the high school for mold. And this time Upper Perk was in it until the end, before the Tigers scored with 1:22 left to claim the 24-21 non-league victory.

            "I really don't know what happened," Hontz said. "My coaching staff and I are frustrated and the team can't seem to find anyone to step up and take control when the momentum starts to swing. We are not handling adversity well."

            Fleetwood (1-3) was the team who had to deal with adversity in the first quarter as Upper Perk took a 13-0 lead. On the Indians' second offensive drive, Tyrese Reid hauled in a short pass down the middle, then outraced the secondary for a 93-yard score.

When the Indians got the ball back, thanks to the second of senior Colin Funk's first-quarter interceptions, the offense went right back to work.

            This time, Reid took a handoff off right tackle, then cut back to the opposite side of the field as he blazed for a 46-yard touchdown. Defensively, Upper Perk kept the Tigers off the board thanks to Funk's two picks, along with a sack from linebacker Ben Houseknecht. Funk's second interception was highlight-reel worthy as he snatched the ball out of the air from a Tigers receiver's helmet, then pulled it in on the Upper Perk sideline. Upper Perk's defense forced four fumbles, recovering two, to account for four turnovers.

            "The bright spots were the ability of the defense to create some turnovers, including two interceptions by Collin Funk," Hontz said. "Andrew Carducci also showed some promise at safety as we needed to shuffle things around due to Malachi Duka being a bit banged up."

            From there, though, Fleetwood was able to turn the tide. The rally started as freshman lineman Joey Svoboda grabbed a deflected pass out of the air and raced 43 yards across the goal line early in the second quarter. Right before half, Fleetwood took over after a failed Indian fourth-down attempt, converted a fourth-down of their own and cashed in a score on a 7-yard pass play to take a 14-13 lead at halftime.

            To its credit, Upper Perk's defense held on four downs to give the offense the ball on its own 29 on the Tigers' first drive of the second half. The offense responded as Carducci hauled a short completion into a 59-yard reception to the Fleetwood 14. Luke Whary (13 carries, 59 yards) did the grunt work from there on three carries to the 4, where Reid took a sweep for a touchdown with 5:15 left in the third quarter.

            And from there, it was all Fleetwood.

            The Tigers responded with a clock-chewing, six-minute, 62-yard drive that included a pair of fourth down conversions and culminated in a 20-yard field goal to trim Upper Perk's lead, 21-17. With 4:18 left in the fourth, at its own 10, Upper Perk couldn't put together a sustained drive and turned it over to the Tigers on the Indians' 30 with 2:38 left. They made the most of it, using a designed pass that the quarterback opted to take for a 10-yard scamper and score.

            Reid had 14 carries for 41 yards and two scores, and led all receivers with three catches for 102 yards and one touchdown. Whary caught two passes for 26 yards, as did Max Kratohwill (two catches, 22 yards). Tyler Weber completed eight of 19 passes for 207 yards, with a touchdown and three interceptions.

            Upper Perk's schedule won't get any easier as it travels to Royersford Saturday to take on Frontier foe Pope John Paul II. The Golden Panthers are 4-0 and coming off a 42-14 victory at Schuylkill Valley.

            "We are going to need a strong effort from our secondary and pass rush if we hope to compete with PJP on Saturday," Hontz said. "It's going to be very challenging being on the road again and I'm sure that they are going to be hungry for some revenge for what we were able to do last season (two UP wins). Having said that, we hope that getting back to a normal practice routine and starting the PAC division season will get us focused and energized."


 

 

 

 

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