Unionville tops Kennett, 50-36
09/19/2017 01:42PM ● Published by Richard Gaw
So there it was, on display on the Kennett High School football stadium last Friday night. Two schools, separated by only a few miles and joined together in a long rivalry. Two football programs, one engineered by a longtime coach and currently at the top of its game; and the other, kick-started by the arrival of a new coach, a quarterback on the rise and ignited by the big play.
In the end, Unionville's 50-36 victory over Kennett on Sept. 16 is merely a story told in numbers. The game's true narrative, however, came in the form of changing momentum and comeback resiliency.
Unionville, who came into the game ranked in the Pennsylvania Prep Live Top 20, improved its record to 4-0 in the Ches-Mont on the arm of quarterback Alex Gorgone, the hands of wide receivers JT Hower and Connor Schilling, and the legs of backs Jack Adams, Dante Graham and Joe Zubillaga. And yet, on the other side of the field, new head coach Josh Kaufman's Blue Demons (2-2) were led by the arm of quarterback Jake Dilcher, who tossed three touchdown passes during an offensive effort that had its share of highlights and setbacks.
It was Dilcher who got his team on the board first, on a ten-snap possession that ended with his 34-yard touchdown pass to running back Garrett Cox with 7:15 left in the first quarter. Down 6-0, the fluctuating QB tandem of Gorgone and Zubillaga moved the ball from its own 32-yard line to the Kennett five-yard line, a 68-yard drive that ended with Zubillaga's keeper with 3:27 left in the quarter.
Late in the first quarter, a poor punt gave Unionville the ball at Kennett's 35-yard line, and passes to Graham and Hower move the ball to the two-yard-line. With 1:39 left in the quarter, Zubillaga again scored on a QB keeper to give the Indians a 13-6 lead.
Early in the second quarter, a poor snap to Kennett punter D.J. McNamara in his end zone was recovered by Unionville for a safety that pushed Unionville's lead to 15-6. Schilling's subsequent kick return set up the Indians on the 37-yard line of Kennett, and five plays later, a pitch by Gorgone to Graham resulted in a seven-yard touchdown run with 9:25 left in the half that gave Unionville a 22-6 lead.
Inheriting the ball on Kennett's own two-yard line and down by 16 points heading into halftime, Dilcher showed the poise that has made the senior one of the best quarterbacks in the Ches-Mont this season. With 30 seconds to halftime, he found wide receiver Mitch Kosara, who then sprinted 96 yards to get Kennett to the one-yard line, which was followed by a one-yard Cox TD run with 16.9 seconds left in the first half.
The 22-12 halftime score would have been much wider were it not for two plays by Kennett defensive tackle Drew Moskey. He blocked a Unionville field goal attempt late in the second quarter and, on Unionville's next possession with the ball on the five-yard line, Moskey recovered a fumble that gave Kennett the ball on their own two-yard line.
Zubillaga's third TD of the game came with 9:44 left in the third quarter on a 28-yard keeper, which was then followed by his sack of Dilcher, which backed Kennett punter McNamara into his own end zone. With 7:29 left in the quarter, his punt was blocked and recovered by Unionville to give the Indians a commanding 36-12 lead, which was then tacked onto by a 31-yard touchdown run by Hower with 3:41 left in the third quarter.
Down 43-12, McNamara took the ensuing kick-off at his 15-yard line and scampered 85 yards for a touchdown with 3:26 left. After a two-point conversion, Kennett found themselves behind by only two touchdowns with more than a quarter left.
Enter Dilcher again, who then orchestrated a drive that began on his own 43-yard line and resulted four plays later with a 56-yard TD strike to a wide open wide receiver Chris Brooks, followed by a two-point conversion was successful, and with 10:31 left in the game, Kennett was down 43-28.
After Zubillaga scored his final touchdown of the night -- a six-yard keeper with 7:16 left -- Dilcher got the ball in his hands again, and found wide receiver Justin Shacknai for a one-handed, 28-yard touchdown pass with 3:53 left.
To Unionville head coach Pat Clark, the win was a balanced attack by what has become a familiar set of names.
“We're very fortunate to have experienced skill kids, and we got JT Hower a few more touches tonight, and the perimeter game really helped us,” Clark said. “We were able to spread them out a little bit and once we got them spread out, Dante and Jack and Alex and Connor Schilling really came through for us.”
“We're 4-0 and we're still making a lot of mistakes, so if we can sharpen up our edges and make it better, we can be a heck of a team,” Zubillaga said. “As a unit, we are very united. We're all friends and all enjoy everything we do together, and that really helps.”
The Indians play host to visiting Oxford on Sept. 22, while Kennett hosts Sun Valley on the same night. Both games begin at 7 p.m.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.