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Sports Article
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Indians Comeback Falls Short Against Bears
Written by Staff Report

                After a season opening loss that was decided early in the third quarter, Upper Perkiomen's football team got a taste of what it feels to play a full, 48-minute game.

                That opportunity came last Friday night as Upper Perk traveled to Boyertown to take on the Bears in both teams' Pioneer Athletic Conference opener. Both teams were roughed up in their respective openers against playoff-caliber competition last week, and were were anxious to make amends against league competition.

                As it turned out, Boyertown's two touchdowns in the third quarter proved too much to overcome as the hosts held on for a 41-36 victory.

                But the Indians sure didn't make it easy.

                Down 20 points, 41-21, with just four minutes left in regulation, Upper Perk stormed back with three scores. The first came as senior Austin Bittenbender hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zeke Hallman. Boyertown answered in kind on its next offensive possession, but Upper Perk countered with a 19-yard strike to sophomore Tyler Keyser. The Indians' offense struck again with less than a minute, as Tyler Whary took care of business with a two-yard scoring plunge that cut the deficit to 41-36.

                Upper Perk recovered the ensuing onsides kick with 40 seconds remaining, and was aided by a roughing the passer penalty that put the Indians a hail mary away from the upset. Hallman heaved three passes to the end zone, but the Bear defense was up to the task.

                "The execution was better, we seemed to gain confidence and our conditioning seemed to be paying off as Boyertown seemed to be wearing down," Upper Perk head coach Tom Hontz said. "Unfortunately, we just ran out of time. We needed to be sharper in the second and third quarters in order to win this game."

                The Indians' offense scored on four of its six second-half possessions, but took the better part of the first half to hit its stride. To its credit, Upper Perk did score after receiving the opening kickoff, with Hallman capping the drive on a four-yard scamper.

                Boyertown's offense, which relied on a heavy diet of the read-option, answered with rushing touchdowns of 14, 33 and 17 to go ahead 21-7, before Hallman found Bittenbender for a 41-yard score on the home sideline.

                Upper Perk's offense piled up 334 yards, as senior Michael Felix led the ground game with 86 yards on 16 carries, and pulled in three screen passes that spanned 41 yards. Bittenbender had two catches, both touchdowns, for 57 yards, Keyser had two reception for 29 yards and Kendra also had two catches, worth 22 yards.

                Hallman finished 13 of 32 for 187 yards with 3 TDs as he spread the ball around to seven different receivers. He helped out on the ground with six carries for 43 yards and one score and a two-point conversion run.

                "The passing game was much stronger - we saw some of the things we saw in the summer during seven-on-sevens," Hontz said. "Hopefully, we can continue to develop that part of our offensive game. We also had pretty strong protection up front which was very important as well."

                Defensively, inside linebacker Dylan Reinford had an active night as he tallied six tackles and forced a fumble. Felix and Bittenbender both paced the team with 10 tackles apiece, as senior inside backer Kevin Loose recovered two fumbles to go along with seven stops. Junior lineman Josh Engdahl had six tackles, and two for a loss, in another solid outing.

                "Unfortunately, we needed this win to prove to ourselves we can win a tight game," Hontz said. "I admired or tenacity, but again, we need to play a complete ball game."
                Things won't get any easier for Upper Perk as it travels to Spring-Ford tomorrow night to tangle with the Rams. Spring-Ford, who avenged a loss to State College last year with an impressive season opener in 2015, roughed up Phoenixville this past weekend, 58-7. In the win over the Phantoms, the Rams' Selwyn Simpson rushed for 76 yards and three touchdowns and the Spring-Ford defense allowed just 118 total yards of offense.

                "Our goal is pretty realistic as we will try to play them tough and hopefully come out of the game healthy and tougher as we gear up for the next part of the season," Hontz said.






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