By Richard L. Gaw
In the case of Unionville’s Ches-Mont league game against visiting Avon Grove last Thursday, it was undetermined at game’s end whether most of the lightning seen in the vicinity of the field was from Mother Nature or by Indian quarterback Alex Pechin.
On a night when he threw for 186 yards on 13-20 passing, the senior commandeered an explosive offensive attack both in the air and on the ground, and scrambled for two touchdowns himself in a dominant 41-21 league victory over the Red Devils.
The start of the game, originally scheduled at 7 p.m., was delayed 35 minutes by possible lightning threats, and again just before halftime, when the threat of more lightning in the area delayed the game another hour. Under PIAA rules, there is a 30-minute delay in a game at the moment when lightning is detected anywhere in the vicinity of an outside sport.
If Pechin had any counterpoint from the other side on an evening that saw his dominant play, it was Avon Grove quarterback Tanner Peck, who helped put the first points of the game on the board. On Avon Grove’s second possession, Peck alternated his team’s drive with handoffs to running back Jake Parola and QB keepers, moving the ball from the Avon Grove 41 yard line to the inside the Unionville ten. With 4:08 remaining in the first quarter, Peck scored on a 9 yard scamper, eluding two tacklers en route to a touchdown, which was followed by a two-point conversion by running back Taylor Kim.
Spotted to an early lead, however, the Avon Grove defense was no match for Unionville running back Garrett Scargill who, after a quiet first quarter, initiated his team’s first touchdown of the day with a 13-yard gain on Unionville’s first possession of the second quarter. His subsequent carries of 7 and 4 yards set up Pechin’s pitch to running back Dom Di Baggio, who scampered 5 yards along the right side of the field for the Indians’ first score.
On Unionville’s next possession, Scargill caught a 34-yard, right-on-the-money pass from Pechin on the 5 yard line for a touchdown with 4:45 left in the half, putting the Indians up 14-8. Peck then answered Pechin’s strike with a key throw of his own. With the ball on the Avon Grove 20 yard line, Peck drilled the ball downfield, hitting receiver Beau Kush for a 45 yard gain. However, the scoring opportunity was thwarted when on 4th and 8 and the ball on the Unionville 33, Peck was sacked in the backfield by defensive lineman Clark Bingol.
With 2:02 left in the half, Pechin, seeing middle-of-the-field daylight, juked Red Devil defenders for a 46-yard touchdown with two minutes left in the second quarter, and followed it up with a 3-yard roll out touchdown pass to tight end Dan McClaskey with 21 seconds left in the quarter, which staked Unionville to a 27-8 lead at halftime.
After more than an hour delay, the second half began at 9:40 p.m., and many of the fans who had turned out for a rare Thursday night game under the lights had either retreated to their cars or left for good. Either way, they missed the second half of Pechin’s complete-game mastery, which continued to befuddle Avon Grove with its use of rollouts, pitches, handoffs, and passes thrown over the middle, and screen passes out of the pocket. Although Scargill got the most carries for Unionville, he was not the only teammate Pechin went to. With 3:48 remaining in the third, after two completions to Chris Koehler moved the ball within the ten, junior running back Austin Hoffman-Reardon found the end zone on a short run to put the game out of reach, 34-8.
After Peck’s 8-yard strike to Kush at the end of the third quarter cut the lead to 34-14, Pechin again used his arm, his legs and his teammates to push across another score. With ball at midfield at the start of the last quarter, Pechin used runs by Scargill and Di Baggio as well as a play action pass to McClaskey for a 30-yard gain to get the ball to the six yard line. With 7:39 left, Pechin’s TD keeper made the score 41-14.
On the ensuing kickoff, Avon Grove’s Austen Radecki returned the ball to the Unionville 27. Following a 12-yard carry by Parola and a pass interference call that moved the chains to the 9 yard line, Peck found Radecki in the end zone for the game’s final score with 6:09 left. The game ended at 10:40 p.m.
With the victory, Unionville coach Pat Clark’s team is now 2-1 on the early campaign, with a non-league game at Sun Valley on Sept. 20. Doug Langley’s Red Devil squad falls to 1-2, and travels to Coatesville for a Ches-Mont league game on Sept. 20.