Unionville’s defense delivers another shutout
● By Steven Hoffman
For football purists who believe that the only right way to win a game is by running the ball effectively, controlling the line of scrimmage, and playing smart, physical defense, the clash between Unionville and Bayard Rustin on Sept. 16 was the game to watch in Week Four action. The road to the American Division Championship in the rugged Ches-Mont League usually runs through either Unionville or Bayard Rustin, and the two teams did not disappoint with this game as Unionville’s defense delivered its second shutout in a row in a hard-fought 14-0 win.
Unionville took control of the game from the onset as the offense engineered an 11-play drive that moved the ball 65 yards down the field with impressive efficiency. Running back Jack Adams carried much of the load, running the ball for 25 of those yards on nine carries. He was also on the receiving end of a pass by quarterback Alex Gorgone that resulted in a 30-yard play that moved the ball to the 26 of Bayard Rustin. Gorgone also made a nice pass to Joe Zubillaga that covered just enough ground to pick up a first down on a third-and-twelve play. Rustin’s defense made a valiant stand when they stopped Unionville on three straight running plays inside the five, bringing up a fourth-and-one from the one. But Unionville wasn’t going to be denied, and Adams capped the drive by following the strong blocking up front and forcing his way into the end zone for the one-yard touchdown run. It was 7-0.
Pat Register took the ensuing kickoff for Bayard Rustin and raced 63 yards, setting the team’s offense up at the 32 of Unionville. Like Unionville, Bayard Rustin ran the ball effectively early on. Running backs Brandon Frazier and Nick Benoit moved the chains on consecutive plays, and the Golden Knights marched their way inside the ten-yard line. But Unionville’s defense established a pattern of rising to the occasion when it was challenged. They stopped Bayard Rustin’s drive on three straight plays, and the field goal attempt was no good, keeping the score at 7-0.
The next big challenge for Unionville’s defense came in the second quarter. Mixing runs by Frazier, Benoit, and Kevin Sweeney, Bayard Rustin once again moved deep into Unionville territory. On a play that started at the 34 of Unionville, Frazier gained 11 yards on a sweep to the left, and a personal foul call put the ball on the 12-yard line with a fresh set of downs. On first down, Sweeney took a hand-off and was stopped immediately by Unionville linebacker Trevor Gardiner. On the next play, it was linebackers Jesse Gill and Aidan Boyle who tackled Frazier for a small gain. Next, Unionville’s defense forced a fumble that Gill recovered. The turnover denied Bayard Rustin a field goal attempt and preserved the 7-0 lead.
Unionville went three-and-out on its next offensive series, and Bayard Rustin had good field position, starting near midfield, for its next possession. A few plays into the drive, Benoit caught an 18-yard pass from quarterback Tim Durant to move the ball inside the Red Zone. Once again, Unionville’s defense responded as linebacker Matthew Dauphin dropped Benoit for a five-yard loss on first down. Durant dropped back to pass on the next play, but Dauphin was right there to put pressure on him as the pass sailed incomplete. On the next play, Unionville’s defense forced its second fumble of the game. The score remained 7-0.
Zubillaga came on to play quarterback for Unionville after Gorgone suffered an arm injury in the second quarter. On the first offensive series in the second half, Zubillaga engineered a 58-yard scoring drive. The big play was a quarterback scramble that Zubillaga gained 27 yards on. He finished the drive with a beautiful nine-yard touchdown pass to Boyle, making it 14-0.
Unionville continued to play strong defense, keeping the Golden Knights backed up on their end of the field. On two occasions, Rustin pushed the ball into Unionville territory, but the Indians’ defense produced two more turnovers as Zubillaga and Zach Nance came up with interceptions to protect the 14-0 lead. The last of the four turnovers that Unionville's defense forced came with less than a minute to play. Unionville's offense ran out the clock to finish off the tough, physical win.
There was no shortage of standout players for Unionville, and head coach Pat Clark described the game as a team win.
Zubillaga, a junior, was seeing his first significant action under center for the Indians. Clark talked about how well he played after being pressed into action at quarterback.
“He's a good athlete. He is one of our most competitive kids in any sport,” Clark said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to coach him in two sports. I think our team really rallied behind him tonight.”
Clark was, of course, pleased with the team’s effort on defense, which delivered its second straight shutout.
“Our guys take a lot of pride in the defense,” Clark said. “If you can put Rustin in passing downs, that is good for the defense. I’m fortunate to be in a place where the kids always work so hard.”
After an 0-2 start against very good teams, Unionville’s record now stands at 2-2 with a Sept. 23 game against Downingtown East up next. The Indians play a very tough schedule, so there are no opponents that can be overlooked. Downingtown East is currently 3-1 and ranked among the top 25 teams in the state.
“We look forward to that challenge,” Clark said of the home game against Downingtown East. “We have to take them one at a time.”