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Holden Leads Panthers to KSFL Title
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            A sprained ankle forced Tony Holden to miss Perkiomen School's last meeting with Mercersburg Academy. Holden said he didn't like how the second half transpired.

Hunter Eschallier, right, uses a stiff-arm to avoid
Mercersburg Academy defender during Perkiomen
School's KSFL title victory.

            Last week, the running back made sure the rubber match had a more satisfying ending. He scored four touchdowns to lead the Panthers to the inaugural Keystone State Football League title.

            Holden's final score, with 64 seconds remaining, secured his team's 32-14 victory Saturday afternoon against the visiting Blue Storm on Saturday, Nov. 2. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native rolled up 219 yards from scrimmage.

            "I had a feeling our season would come down to this matchup," head coach Casey Perlstein said. "Mercersburg Academy is a very good team that is well coached."

            The Panthers (7-1) – in their second season playing 8-man football under Perlstein – celebrated their league title on the field and posed for photographs. They overcame a special team miscue late in the second quarter that led to a Mercersburg Academy touchdown.

            Their defense forced two turnovers and limited the potent Blue Storm offense, which rallied from a 22-point second half deficit for a 34-28 overtime victory Oct. 4, on the same field, to just 41 yards rushing and 11 first downs.

            "This feels great," Holden said. "It's a total team win."

            Holden ran for 175 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. He added four catches for 44 yards and a score from freshman quarterback Michael Boyle. Nolan Pedrick finished with 85 yards on 21 carries. T.J. Khela added a 17-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

             Holden and Pedrick, a Pennsburg resident, were featured on the team's final scoring series. Running behind Brandon Legris, Aiden Spradlin, Cooper Gleason and Patrick Bayiha, the duo combined for 14 carries during the 20-play, 77-yard drive that lasted nearly nine minutes. Holden's 1-yard TD run, with 1:04 remaining, capped Perkiomen School's victory.

            "The drive came at the perfect time for us," Perlstein said of the final drive, which included three completions by Boyle. "We were able to keep getting positive years. The guys up front really paved the way for this championship."

            Hunter Eschailler's interception midway through the first quarter helped the Panthers take a 6-0 lead. On the ensuring play from scrimmage, Holden ran 70 yards to the end zone.

            An errant snap by Perkiomen School in punt formation allowed the Blue Storm to take an 8-6 lead. Jasper Dittmar's 40yard TD run, and his ensuring 2-point conversion the identical play, put them ahead 8-6 with 2:09 remaining in the second half.

            However, the Panthers responded on their next possession. Holden's 30-yard TD reception with 27 seconds left in the second quarter on third down, staked them to a 12-8 halftime lead. Boyle's 38-yard completion to Legris on third down set up the score.

            Early in the third quarter, Perkiomen School extended its lead to 20-8. Holden scored on an 11-yard TD run before Boyle, a Pennsburg resident, and Legris hooked up for the 2-point conversion. Khela's TD run, on fourth down with 2:40 remaining in the third quarter, made it 26-8.

            The Panthers defense limited Campbell Prentiss, the Blue Storm's explosive quarterback, to 11 yards on four carries. Bayiha pressured him several times in the passing game.





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