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UP Comes up Big in Homecoming Win Over PJP
Written by Staff Report
2015-10-28

Upper Perk senior running back Michael Felix dashes with the ball during Friday night's home game against Pope John Paul II. He led all rushers with 79 yards on 16 carries and two scores.

                This one was fun, at least for Upper Perkiomen anyway.

                And the Indians proved they were more than up to the challenge as they downed visiting Pope John Paul II, 38-10. The homecoming victory helped snap a three-game skid for Upper Perk, with just two games left in the season. The win leaves the Indians with a 2-6 overall record.

                Perhaps the hardest part for Indians head Tom Hontz was figuring out where best to direct the praise. His team got a balanced attack from its offense as it piled up 444 total yards, a defense that held the Panthers to 40 rushing yards and three picks (one for a score), and a special teams unit that wasn't too shabby, either.

                Offensively, senior running back Michael Felix made up for lost time after sitting out on offense last week against Pottstown. He led all rushers with 79 yards on 16 carries and two scores, and was a force in the passing game as he pulled in three receptions that spanned 45 yards with one touchdown. Sophomore Austin Tutolo was also effective, rushing 71 yards on nine carries, with other solid efforts on the ground from Bo Duka (seven carries, 28 yards), Aidan Rowles (five carries, 25 yards) and Garrett Perlstein (two carries, 18 yards).

                The passing game was bolstered by a 7-12, 190-yard night from junior quarterback Zeke Hallman that yielded three touchdowns. Senior Austin Bittenbender pulled in the longest of the night, a 61-yard scoring pass, as Ryan Kendra caught two balls for 52 yards and a score.

                "It was nice to get so many guys involved," Hontz said. "Felix was great, but Tutolo really stepped up. Zeke had his finest game and had some fun hitting many targets including Kendra, Bittenbender and Kevin Loose (1 catch, 32 yards)."

                Defensively, Upper Perk kept a formidable PJP passing game in check, with interceptions from Bittenbender, Kendra and Felix. Linebackers Jacob Votta and Dylan Reinford led the defense with nine tackles apiece, as Felix and Bittenbender tallied eight each in the secondary. Loose and Dylan Croissette had six tackles each, with other solid play from Tyler Smith, Mahlon Schaffer and Andrew Frantz.

                "We've been working on fundamentals, trying to emphasize our responsibilities," Hontz said. "I think that has helped. Plus, competing with teams at our level has allowed our confidence to grow."

                Upper Perk went to work early, scoring on its first offensive drive. Felix was clutch on the march as he converted on a fourth-down run and then capped off the drive with an ankle-breaking 27-yard screen pass that went the distance, also on fourth down.

                PJP (0-8) answered right back, aided by a pair of pass interference calls that set the table for a score and subsequent 7-6 lead early in the second quarter.

                Upper Perk would not look back from there, though. Bittenbender's 61-yard bomb put the Indians ahead for good, and Kendra's 40-yard scoring toss with 1:15 left in the half staked the homers to an 18-10 lead at half.

                In the second half, Upper Perk used an all-run drive, capped off by a Felix 24-yard rush to add some insurance after a nice kickoff return from Kendra. Bittenbender's 33-yard interception return to pay dirt late in the third quarter opened things up even more, and Felix made the rout official as he bulled his way in from two yards out after two solid runs from Rowles.

                Upper Perk will get a reality check tomorrow night as it travels to undefeated Perkiomen Valley. The game is the last step before the 8-0 Vikings are likely to tangle with unbeaten Spring-Ford (who plays PJP Friday) in the final game of the season next week. 

                Perk Valley features the league's top rated quarterback in Stephen Sturm. The junior has completed over 70 percent of his passes for 1,867 yards and has 24 touchdowns and just one pick. His top target Justin Jaworski leads the league in receiving with 38 catches for 595 yards and eight scores. Two other PV receivers are in the Pioneer Athletic Conference's top 10: Aaron Morton is fourth with 16 catches for 415 yards and seven scores (a 25.9 average), and running back David Williams is 10th with 25 catches for 313 yards. Kendra is currently eighth on the list with his 25 receptions for 327 yards and three scores.

                Williams is no slouch running the ball, either, as he is the league's third leading rusher with 564 yards and 12 scores on 70 carries. The Vikings are coming off a 42-0 shutout over Phoenixville and have outscored opponents 390-86, or an average of 49-11.

                "If we can scrap with PV like we did in the first half last year, and if we can pull down another win against Phoenixville, that would give us something to build on and hopefully, leave a satisfying feeling for our graduating seniors," Hontz said.

 


 

 

 

 

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