Unionville defeated, 49-28, in state semifinals
12/05/2017 10:49AM ● Published by Richard Gaw
Late last Friday night, moments after the clock ticked off what would be his last high school football game, Unionville's Joe Zubillaga stood in a nearly empty Charles Martin Memorial Stadium in North Philadelphia and thanked his teammates, especially those whose names rarely appear in a newspaper account of a Unionville football game.
Despite a Cinderella season that included a Ches-Mont title and a trip to the PIAA-5A State Semifinal game, Unionville was defeated, 49-28, by an superbly talented Archbishop Wood team that is headed back to the state final against Gateway on Dec. 8 at Hershey Stadium for the fifth time in seven years.
Zubillaga pointed with his blue and yellow helmet toward many of his teammates who were greeting family, friends and fellow students who had made the more than one-hour trip north of Philadelphia, but those who he pointed to were not among the many playmakers the Indians went to all season.
“[Wide receiver] JT [Hower] and I may receive a lot of the publicity, but it's all those guys in the trenches who really run this team,” Zubillaga said. “It's not just JT and me. It's everyone who puts all of their heart into this, and it really goes a long way to see all of us break through and make it all the way to the state semis.”
While the Indians deserved credit for ringing up 28 points on a Viking team that consistently ranks among the top high school football programs in the state, they were hit by an offensive steamroller in the person of Nasir Peoples, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound running back who scored three touchdowns and ran for 145 yards through a Unionville defense that had stymied other offenses all season long. Peoples' performance began on Wood's first drive, after a fake punt and 35-yard run by Wood punter Bill Cook moved the ball to the Unionville 5-yard line, which was followed by Peoples' two-yard TD run with 6:28 left in the first quarter.
With just over one minute left in the first quarter, Peoples scampered from the Indian 42-yard line to the 4-yard line, and scored his second touchdown on a 3-yard blast up the middle with 46 seconds left in the quarter to give Wood an early 14-0 lead.
Viking quarterback Jack Colyar extended Wood's lead to 21-0 with a 1-yard TD keeper with 3:46 left in the second quarter, which was then answered by Hower on the ensuing kickoff. Hower collared the ball at the 20-yard line and ran untouched for an 80-yard TD return with 3:29 left in the first half.
Down by two touchdowns, Unionville coughed up an opportunity to stop the Vikings offense when it was called for a facemask penalty on the kickoff, which gave Wood field position near midfield. A pass interference call put the ball into Unionville territory, and a 22-yard run by Adrian Lambert moved the ball to the 9-yard line. Peoples then tacked on his third TD of the game with a 9-yard run with 1:05 left in the first half.
Down 28-7 at the start of the third quarter, Unionville coughed up the ball at midfield, which was recovered and run in for a touchdown by Wood defensive end Billy Schaeffer with 10:50 left in the third quarter. The Vikings then extended their lead to 42-7 when Colyar found wide receiver Kyle Pitts over the middle for a 35-yard gain. That was followed by a 5-yard TD run by Lambert with 7:37 remaining in the quarter.
On Unionville's next possession, Alex Gorgone scored on a QB keeper to give the Indians their second touchdown of the game with 5:48 left in the quarter. With 11:03 left in the game, Wood's Chris Blackstone scored his team's seventh and final touchdown on a 4-yard TD plunge.
Facing an insurmountable 49-14 deficit, Unionville clawed its way back to the scoring column on two late touchdowns by two of head coach Pat Clark's junior class. Junior running back Joe Fariello ran up the middle on a 20-yard touchdown run with 7:54 left in the game; and with 36 seconds left, safety Nick Schnaars picked up a fumble and ran 80 yards for a touchdown to cap off the 2107 Indian season.
“What a great effort,” Clark said of his team's performance this season. “I think we got everything out of our kids this year. We had to play perfect tonight and we didn't play perfect. We were beaten tonight by a better team, and it wasn't because of a lack of effort. Overall, we got everything I wanted to get out of this team.
“These guys have been awesome. Our program has been a really good program, but they elevated it to the next level. My hope is that this becomes the new normal.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.