Late heroics lead to Unionville's 21-18 victory
● By J. Chambless
Unionville quarterback Brendan Boyle engineered a game-winning drive that led to a 21-18 victory over Great Valley on Oct. 17.
By Richard L. Gaw
The Unionville team bus was conveniently parked directly behind the visiting grandstands at last Saturday’s Ches-Mont American division match-up between the Indians and Great Valley, and after a scoreless first half that featured three fumbles and one dropped pass in the end zone, there was great concern that the bus ride home later that afternoon would be one of pure agony.
But by game’s end, just moments after Pat Clark buried Great Valley’s last-second gasp at a Homecoming win by sacking Patriot quarterback Robert Geiss, the ride may have turned out to be the most enjoyable anyone on the Unionville team had ever had.
In one of the most memorable comebacks in recent Unionville football memory, the Indians came back from an 18-14 deficit with 2:33 remaining to beat Great Valley 21-18 on a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brendan Boyle to wide receiver Elan Nash with just 57 seconds left in the game.
Conversely, a game that concluded with incredible heroics began with unfortunate blunder. Riding on the high of their Homecoming pomp and circumstance, Great Valley jumped on the board in the first quarter, when with 3:55 remaining, Geiss found wide receiver Ryan Hubley for a 25-yard completion. Hit immediately after his completion, Hubley’s second effort found the end zone, completing a 15-play, 90-yard drive.
On the other side of the ball, Unionville was held to just two possessions in the first quarter, while in the second, Boyle fumbled away the ball on the 21-yard line with 10:33 remaining. After Great Valley’s next possession could not gain ground, Unionville punt returner Brandon Boon only briefly touched the ensuing punt, which was gathered in by Great Valley. With 3:17 remaining in the first half, Geiss’s pass attempt was intercepted by Unionville’s Mark Knightly at midfield, but on its first play from scrimmage, Boon fumbled.
The Indians’ only serious scoring threat of the first half was thwarted with 54 second remaining in the first half when wide receiver Tyler Marmo seemed to have gathered in a ten-yard touchdown strike from Boyle, only to lose control of the ball in the corner of the end zone a second later.
The only image with more impact than the sight of Unionville players whooping it up on the opposing team’s field at the end of the game was watching how the comeback all unfolded.
After Knightly’s second interception of the day gave Unionville the ball back early in the third quarter, Boyle tossed a perfect, 27-yard touchdown pass to Nash with 9:20 remaining in the quarter, which gave the Indians a 7-6 lead. On Great Valley’s next possession, Geiss marched his team to midfield, only to have his pass attempt to Hubley picked off by Unionville linebacker Joe Zubillaga at midfield and returned to the Great Valley 39-yard line, with 5:10 remaining in the third quarter. A 13-yard Boyle run moved the ball to the Great Valley 26-yard line, and after a Boyle carry got the ball to within a hair of the end zone, Boyle plunged in on the next play to give Unionville a 14-6 lead with 1:46 left in the quarter.
Great Valley, however, did not come into the game with a 5-1 record on illusion or smoke and mirrors, but on the well-proven effectiveness of the pass combination of Geiss and Hubley. Facing fourth-and-15 on the Unionville 37, Geiss found Hubley over the middle for a 37-yard touchdown with 10:15 left in the fourth quarter to make it a 14-12 game. A two-point attempt failed, but a few minutes later Great Valley used its key weapon once again when, with 5:48 left in the game, Geiss found Hubley for a 55-yard TD strike that gave the Patriots an 18-14 lead.
After a reckless first half, Boyle handled what turned out to be the winning drive with cool mastery, alternating between rushing and passing. Inheriting the ball on the Unionville 21-yard line, Boyle (18-116 in rushing) carried to his own 28-yard line, then found Clark for a 17-yard completion that got the ball near midfield with 2:15 left in the game. Two passes to Nash moved the ball to the Great Valley 37-yard line, and an 18-yard scramble by Boyle got the ball to the 19-yard line, setting up Nash’s game-winner. Nash finished the day with five receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
“We find different ways to win,” said Unionville Head Coach Pat Clark. “We’re not perfect but I’ll tell you what. This team has fight and heart and character, and that’s what pulled it out today. At the end, our players made plays, whether it was Boyle or Nash or Boon. They left me speechless.”
The win jumped the Indians’ record to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in their division, which now places them atop the Ches-Mont American, heading into this Friday’s cross-town match-up against Kennett. Looking past the Blue Devils, Unionville will finish their season with games against currently winless Octorara and a struggling Sun Valley team – a potential of three additional wins which would give Unionville an 8-2 final record and great positioning in the District One playoffs.
Great Valley, now 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the Ches-Mont American, travels to Oxford (1-6) this Friday.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.