Penalty-laden Unionville falls to Exeter, 31-13
● By Richard Gaw
At first listen, it may have sounded peculiar to hear Unionville head coach Pat Clark tell his players that they were a league-championship-caliber team, just moments after the Indians were soundly defeated by visiting Exeter 31-13 last Friday night. A quick look at the scoreboard would be enough to tell the entire story – that Unionville was outscored 24-0 in the last three quarters -- but a quick peek on the stat sheet would also show that the Indians committed ten turnovers.
"We made too many mistakes," Clark said. "We’d force mistakes on them, but we turned it around and gave the ball over. That kind of hurt us. There weren’t sloppy turnovers, but heat-of-the-battle, kids trying to make a play stuff. I told them that I couldn’t fault their effort at all. They played with great intensity."
For Exeter, now 2-0 in the Berks Football League District 3, the emergence of sophomore quarterback Brandon Unterkoefler was the game’s biggest star, throwing for 169 yards and two touchdowns, while moving the ball with the precision of an experienced senior. Led by Unterkoefler’s 31-yard pass to Naythan Beltran that got the ball to the Unionville one yard-line early in the first quarter, running back Chris Scott plunged in for the game’s first score with 8:07 left in the first.
Not to be outdone, Unionville also reached the end zone on its first possession, when quarterback Brendan Boyle (184 passing yards) marched his club up the field, highlighted by a 29-yard strike to Brandon Boon that got the ball within Exeter territory. With 6:15 remaining in the first quarter, Boyle hit wide receiver Tyler Marmo on a roll out touchdown pass to bring the Indians within a point.
The Indians continued their early roll, when on its next possession, a 20-yard pass from Boyle to tight end Pat Clark over the middle gave Unionville its only lead of the night, 13-7.
By the end of the first quarter, the Unionville motor began to stop functioning, dotted with unfortunate penalties that gave Exeter the opportunities they needed. With time ticking down in the first quarter, the Indians were assessed with two costly penalties that helped Exeter get deep in the red zone. On the first play of the second quarter, Unterkoefler scored on a 10-yard run to give Exeter a 14-13 lead, one that they would never relinquish.
With 2:45 remaining in the first half, Unterkoefler scored his second TD of the night on a one-yard plunge to give Exeter comfortable 21-13 lead at halftime. As the second half got underway, even key plays by Unionville could not be capitalized on. With 5:51 left in the third quarter, linebacker Trevor Gardiner picked off an Unterkoefler pass at midfield, but in Unionville’s first snap, Boyle’s pass was intercepted by Beltran and run back to the Unionville 25 year-line, leading to a field goal by Exeter’s Nick Bentz with 2:07 left in the quarter, that gave the Eagles a 24-13 lead.
With 6:41 remaining in the game, Exeter scored its last touchdown of the game on a nine-yard run by sophomore running back Nick Sarangoulis, which was set up by a 37-yard strike from Unterkoefler to wide receiver Connor McGarry.
They [Exeter] were able to run the ball, and they found our soft spots and they came out kin the second half and adjusted," Clark said. "They’re physical team. Sometimes when the Xs are bigger than your Os, it makes things tough."
Despite the loss, Clark expressed confidence in a team that faces a rejuvenated Avon Grove team (2-0) this coming Friday night in Unionville, one led by Clark’s former long-time defensive coordinator, Harry O’Neill.
"We’ll prepare well," Clark said. "We look forward to the opportunity. I’m glad Harry’s doing well, he’s a good friend of mine, and we expect a heckuva football game next Friday night."
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.