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Sports Article
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Indians Beat PJP II; Hand Hontz First Victory
Written by Staff Report

Junior Michael Felix gets tangled with the Pope John Paul II defense during a run in Friday night's game. Felix, returning to the field after an injury sidelined him, had 163 yards on 21 carries and two catches for 58 yards.

        This one was a long time coming in a lot of ways.

        For starters, Upper Perkiomen's 34-14 victory over visiting Pope John Paul II last Friday night marked the team's first home victory in nearly three years. The game also snapped a nine-game losing streak for the Tribe, as the Indians hadn't won since handing the Panthers a similar 37-14 setback nearly a year ago.

        Add in the fact the win was the first for new Indian head coach Tom Hontz and there was plenty for the Indians to celebrate.

        "It's just a sense of relief for everyone," Hontz said. "Coach Peoples, coach Bieler, coach Engle and the whole staff have done a great job with the defense and it's nice to see their efforts get rewarded. Likewise, I just get the sense that the players can sense their hard work is putting things in the right direction."

        Like the team's last win over PJP in 2013, Upper Perk (1-2, 1-3) used a steady diet of the run game, complemented by an opportunistic defense. Junior Michael Felix made his presence felt in a big way as he returned from an injury in week one to lead all rushers with 163 yards on 21 carries. He also led the Indians in receiving with two catches for 58 yards.

        Felix got some help from freshmen Tyler Whary (10 carries, 104 yards), Somky Akpunonu (4 carries, 53 yards, 2 TDs) and Austin Tutolo (7 carries, 36 yards). Behind the offensive line of center Dustin Derstine, guards Mahlon Schaffer and Dylan Croissette, tackles Julian Liguoro and Sylvester Inyang and end Owen Leister, Upper Perk piled up 309 rushing yards as part of a 383-yard total offensive output.

        "This is a work in progress," Hontz said. "We keep working on the basics, work to be more physical, quicker, and more confident - it's going to take time, but it was nice to see a positive payoff Friday night."

        On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Brian Peoples' squad was up for the task. The Indians forced four turnovers against the Panthers, including three interceptions. Junior defensive back Austin Bittenbender, who has been solid in the early goings of the season, accounted for two of those – both of which came in the first half. Freshman Ryan Kendra notched the other as he made the most of an errant pass from PJP quarterback Matt Duff.

        Schaffer provided pressure up front as he tallied 1.5 sacks. Junior linebacker Tyler Smith added one, and Kevin Loose was credited with a half-sack.

        Upper Perk wasted little time in establishing momentum, as it took a 6-0 lead as Leister hauled in a six-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zeke Hallman in the first quarter. Felix helped add to the lead as he took a screen pass 46 yards, dragging a PJP defender along for the ride all the way to the 1-yard line. Akpunonu did the rest as he bulled his way in from there, and Whary tacked on the two-point conversion pass from Hallman. Tutolo gave the Tribe the 21-0 spread at the half as he rushed for a three-yard score.

        PJP, to its credit, made things interesting with a score in the third quarter, but Upper Perk answered right back with scores from Akpunonu (25-yard run) and Hallman (six-yard run) to maintain the 20-point spread.

        "Getting Mike Felix back from injury was huge, but we were also able to spell him with Somky Akpunonu and Austin Tutolo, and they did a nice job," Hontz said. "Tyler Whary has been doing a great job as our fullback. Defensively, Dylan Reinford and Austin Bittenbender had solid games and Austin Orsini has really stepped up his game. Mahlon Schaffer was solid on both sides of the ball."
        Upper Perk will look to take the momentum into tomorrow night's home match-up against Methacton. The Warriors sent shockwaves through the Pioneer Athletic Conference last Saturday as they handed two-time defending league champion Pottsgrove a 20-7 loss. The loss broke up a 25-game league win streak for the Falcons, as Methacton quarterback Conner Derrickson got the job done on the ground as well as through the air. The Warriors' defense, meanwhile, churned out five sacks, forced four turnovers and held Pottsgrove to 185 total yards of offense.






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