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Sports Article
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Upper Perk Holds Off Late Rally for Win Over Phoenixville
Written by Staff Report

                At first glance, it looked like a here-we-go-again scenario for Upper Perkiomen's football team.

                For starters, the Indians took a two-score lead into the half against visiting Phoenixville last Friday night in the Pioneer Athletic Conference opener. Later on, the Phantoms rallied from a three-score lead to cut the margin to six points with nine minutes left in regulation. It was a script that played itself out in two of Upper Perk's losses this season in setbacks to Boyertown and Upper Moreland.

                But this time, things were different.

                Undaunted by the pressure, Upper Perk put two scores on the board in those final nine minutes of the fourth quarter to seal up a 47-35 victory. The win pushed the team's record to 2-3.

                Indians head coach Tom Hontz credited the composure thanks to a 75-yard kickoff return by freshman Tyrese Reid that went the distance. Hontz  said the play deflated the Phantoms.

                "Second, I think some of our guys who were starting to wear down in the second half dug deep and found that little extra that we needed," Hontz said. "Third, maybe we just needed to learn how to win a game like this – hopefully, this was a hurdle we've learned to deal with both as players and coaches, how to close out games."

                Phoenixville (2-3) sure made things interesting. After an Upper Perk turnover, the Phantoms cashed in on their next play to cut the Indians' lead, 41-35, with 8:49 left. Upper Perk went right to work from there, answering on a clutch fourth-and-1 run by quarterback Zeke Hallman. That set the stage for a pair of first-down runs by Tyler Whary (24 carries, 203 yards, 2 TDs) that resulted in a 1-yard plunge by Austin Tutolo (eight carries, 32 yards, TD), who was back in action after an ankle injury in week one.

                On the ensuing kickoff, the squib kick ricocheted off a front-line Phantom and into the awaiting arms of the Indians' Josh Felbinger. The offense did the rest of the work from there, chewing up the remaining 2:09 for the win.

                "The win was very significant," Hontz said, "hopefully winning is contagious. We can enter this week's game with Upper Merion with some confidence and look to be established in our conference as a team to beat."

                Hallman finished 11 of 14 for 179 yards with three scores and a pick. Ryan Kendra was the leading receiver with two catches for 72 yards as Tyler Keyser had three grabs that went 62 yards and one score. Aidan Rowles had a pair of catches for 13 yards, and Trevor Stephen had one catch for eight yards and a touchdown.

                The Phantoms were paced by a 238-yard effort and three scores by Matt Garcia, who had all of his team's rushing yardage, to go along with the Phantoms' 277 passing yards. Upper Perk's defense was bolstered by an interception from Kendra, a sack from Rowles, and a four-quarter effort from Whary, who tallied two tackles for a loss at linebacker.

                Upper Perk will take the win into tomorrow night's away game at Upper Merion. The Vikings are 1-4, with the team's lone win coming against Martin Luther King in week two. Last week, Upper Merion played well despite a 35-0 loss to conference-leading Pottsgrove.

                The Vikings present an interesting match-up with the Indians. It will be a test between the PAC's second top-rated offense in Upper Perk, averaging 372 yards a game, against the league's fourth-rated defense in Upper Merion, which lets up 286 yards per game.

                On the other side of the ball, Upper Perk's defense is ranked last, yielding 379 average yards per game, against an Upper Merion offense that is also last, averaging just 165 yard per game (101 rush, 674 pass). Tyrese Leach is the Vikings' leading rusher with 251 on 65 carries.

                "Upper Merion has a similar offense to ours," Hontz said. "They are coming off a tough week with Pottsgrove, but they have some size and will be a challenge much the same as Phoenixville was."


                The Phoenixville game was a "Lace Up 4 Pediatric Cancer" event where both schools wore gold laces. At halftime, two students on Upper Perk's cheerleading squad were recognized as cancer survivors. Rachel Behm and Kyleigh Danasko were honored during halftime as their battles with cancer were detailed. Both are cancer free.

Senior Dylan Reinford got some tough news last week as he learned he tore his ACL in the loss to Upper Moreland. The captain will miss the rest of the season, but he has been a presence on the sidelines and a rallying point for his teammates.






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