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Graham scores 3 TDs in 39-8 Unionville win

11/14/2017 01:08PM ● Published by Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

On every offensive snap of Unionville's 12-1 season, Head Coach Pat Clark's Indians have been blessed with a multitude of options, commonly referred to in football jargon as “Playmakers.”
There is quarterback Alex Gorgone, who occasionally doubles as a wide receiver when another scoring threat, running back Joe Zubillaga, takes the snap from center. Wide receiver JT Hower's catch-and-run ability has made him nearly impossible to take down. After running back Jack Adams, another scoring machine, went down with an injury, he was quickly replaced by the lightning-quick Joe Fariello.
Last Friday night, in temperatures that dipped below freezing on Unionville's home turf, it was Dante Graham's turn to be the top playmaker.
Behind Graham's three touchdowns and Gorgone's 200 passing yards, Unionville dominated visiting Strath Haven, 39-8, to advance to the District 1, Class 5A semi-finals, where they will play a home game against Marple-Newtown, who defeated Upper Moreland, 24-18, in a first-round playoff last Friday.
The Indians dotted the scoreboard on their first possession of the game, on a ten-play drive that was highlighted by a 37-yard pass from Gorgone to Hower, and finished with a two-yard run by Graham with 2:43 left in the first quarter.
On its first set of downs in the second quarter, Unionville began on its own 33 yard line. A 13-yard pass from Gorgone moved the ball near midfield, which was followed by runs by Zubillaga, Fariello and Graham that moved the ball up the field, before Graham drove in with his second score of the night on a one-yard run with 6:04 left in the first half to jump Unionville out to a 14-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Panther quarterback Jake Fisher was pressured throughout the first half by a swarming Indian defense, which forced Fisher to hurry his passes and scramble for his offensive life. Behind the rushing of running back Zack Hussein, Strath Haven drove the ball to the Unionville 25-yard line for a first down, but Fisher was then sacked for an eight-yard loss by Graham, charging from the defensive backfield, that snuffed out the only serious Panther threat in the first half.
With 9:23 left in the third quarter, Graham scored his third TD on a one-yard jaunt, which was set up by a 38-yard strike from Gorgone to Zubillaga. On its next possession, Unionville went to Fariello, who bolted for a 27-yard carry and then scored on a six-yard run with 1:40 left in the third quarter to stake Unionville to a 27-0 lead.
The Panthers returned the kickoff to their 33-yard line, but on their first snap, Fisher's pass was intercepted by Hower with 1:23 remaining in the quarter, setting up a perfect Gorgone-to-Zubillaga pass in the end zone with 21.3 seconds left in the third that expanded the Indians' lead to 33-0.
As the fourth quarter got underway, it was Connor Schilling's turn in the spotlight. Inheriting the ball on its own 23-yard line after a fumble recovery by middle linebacker Alex Pelegrine, Unionville went to the sophomore running back on four consecutive occasions, the last being a four-yard rushing TD with 8:14 left in the game that gave Unionville a 39-0 lead.
Strath Haven scored its only touchdown on a seven-yard TD run by John Francis with 3:51 remaining in the game, which was followed by a two-point conversion.
The Indians, seeded third in the playoff alignment, will face off against the seventh-seeded Marple- Newtown Fightin' Tigers (8-4 overall) on Nov. 17 at Unionville High School, beginning at 7 p.m.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@chestercounty.com.






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