West Chester East stuns Unionville, 10-7
11/08/2016 12:36PM ● Published by Richard Gaw
On opposite ends of the field, the entire story of last Friday’s opening round, District One, 5A playoff game unraveled at 24 frames per second, just moments after visiting West Chester East upset Unionville, 10-7.
The despondent Indian squad, their hair mussed and their blue and gold uniforms discolored from sweat, gathered around head coach Pat Clark. Clark’s words of consolation to his team were drowned out by the triumphant voice of the East fans, who formed a human tunnel of celebration for their team to run through. Just moments before, the score was deadlocked at seven and then broken when, with nine seconds left in the game, East kicker Jake Bonnett booted a 27-yard field goal to send the underdog Vikings into the second round of the District One playoffs.
Now, on a field splotched white by the dying lights, yet another successful Unionville season – one that earned them yet another Ches Mont League title and a sixth-seed berth into the postseason – was now over, at the hands of an 11th-seeded team.
“I congratulate West Chester East. They played a heck of a game,” Clark said. “It was back and forth, and we couldn’t get a stop. They made a final drive, and made one more play than we did.”
If the second half was reserved for Bonnett’s game-winner, then it was Unionville’s defensive effort in the first half that carried the game’s first two quarters, as West Chester East running back and scoring threat Jared Cooper was held to 16 yards on nine carries, while Michael Cresta, Zach Lawrence, Bryce McManus, Matthew Dauphin and James Watson held the Vikings to 31 total first-half yards.
Alternating between quarterbacks Joe Zubillaga and Alex Gorgone, Unionville was limited to three possessions in the scoreless first quarter, before getting on the board with little time remaining in the second quarter. The Indians began their only scoring drive of the game on West Chester East’s 43-yard line, moved to the 38-yard line on a run by Jack Adams, and got to the 20-yard line on a completion from Gorgone to Zubillaga.
With 1:13 left before the half, Adams sprinted up the right side line for a 20-yard touchdown run and, with an extra point kick by kicker Matt Mainwaring, the Indians went into halftime with a 7-0 lead.
Unionville’s lead vanished early in the third quarter when, on its first possession, West Chester East began play near midfield. Two carries by running back Pierre Marchant moved the ball to the Kennett 35-yard line and, on its third snap, Cooper took a handoff from quarterback Johnathon Thompson and bolted 35 yards for a touchdown with 10:55 left in the third quarter. Bonnett’s point-after attempt was good and suddenly, Unionville – who had just emerged from the locker room – found themselves in a 7-7 tie.
Prior to Bonnett’s game-winner, his 29-yard field goal attempt with 8:43 remaining in the third quarter was blocked by middle linebacker Trevor Gardiner, who had blocked an earlier Bonnett field goal attempt with a few seconds left in the second quarter. With 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Unionville stopped another West Chester East scoring drive, when safety Jesse Gill intercepted a Thompson pass near midfield.
Although Unionville had shut down Cooper in the first half, the junior’s two runs highlighted a drive that got the West Chester East ball to the 10-yard line, perfect field position for Bonnett’s game-winning kick that came after two consecutive Unionville timeouts.
With the win, West Chester East (5-6 overall) broke its 10-year playoff drought and will advance in the playoffs with an upcoming game against Marple Newtown. Despite the loss, Unionville finished the 2016 season with a 7-4 overall record, a perfect 6-0 record in conference play, and its second consecutive Ches Mont American championship.
“The expectation here is always the same -- to compete for a league championship and to make a run in the 5A playoffs,” Clark said. “With the new structure in the 5A playoffs, we can be a very competitive team and pursue a district title.
“We’ll take the next few weeks and just reflect and celebrate the senior class and what they’ve done. It’s time for reflection and the celebrating the accomplishments of this season.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail email@example.com.