Strong running game and good defense lead Unionville past Oxford
● By Steven Hoffman
For the Unionville Indians, a big part of the game plan when they traveled to Oxford last Friday night was to run the ball effectively. If the Indians could run the ball, they could win the time-of-possession battle and keep the ball away from the Oxford Hornets’ high-powered offense that tallied 216 points entering its seventh game of the season.
How well did Unionville execute the game plan?
The Indians ran more than 60 offensive plays, running back Connor Schilling gained 211 yards, and quarterback Blake Charlton tossed two touchdown passes and ran for another, all adding up to a 41-13 win over Oxford.
For most of the first quarter, Oxford delighted the large Homecoming crowd with several big plays—a fumble recovery, a big sack by Jay Morton, and a nice pass play from quarterback Tom Repetz to Justin Neskie that moved the chains during an early drive.
Neither team had much luck sustaining a drive until Schilling took a handoff, found some running room, and bolted 66 yards. Oxford safety Joey Morton stopped Schilling from scoring the touchdown on the long run but, two plays later, Charlton fought his way into the end zone on a quarterback-keeper, giving the Indians a 7-0 lead with 2:05 left to play in the first quarter.
Oxford has proven itself to be a resilient team, and the Hornets quickly answered back, driving 70 yards on eight plays for a score. The touchdown came on a one-yard run by Jaxson Chew.
On Unionville’s next offensive series, Charlton connected with wide receiver Stefan Twonbly on two pass plays—a 16-yard completion and then a 21-yard touchdown. A few minutes later, Schilling concluded a 57-yard drive with five-yard touchdown run that made it 20-7. That was still the score at halftime.
In the third quarter, Unionville put the game out of reach by adding two touchdowns. The first came on a 57-yard drive that included six carries by Schilling. The running back scored from four yards out, making it 27-7. Then, following a fumble recovery, Unionville scored on an 18-yard run by Weston Grim. That made it 34-7.
Oxford answered back with what might have been its best drive of the game, covering 64 yards in 15 plays. The Hornets moved deep into Unionville territory on a 14-yard reception by Jonathan Figueroa and a tough, 17-yard run by Dominic Pantalone. From there, Chew took the ball on five straight running plays, moving the ball inside the five-yard line. Repetz tossed a four-yard touchdown to Figueroa to cap the drive. The point-after kick was blocked so the score was 34-13 with 2:24 to play in the third.
Unionville added a touchdown with just under eight minutes to play in the game, capping the 41-13 victory.
Unionville head coach Pat Clark said that keeping Oxford’s offense off the field was a key to the win, as was avoiding mistakes. The coach explained that Unionville has had games this season where it has played hard and executed well, but mistakes have prevented the team from walking away with a win. This week, Unionville was able to limit the mistakes, and good things happened.
The work of Schilling, a senior, contributed to the victory, too. Schilling has been a dependable weapon in Unionville’s offense for four seasons.
“He’s tough, he’s a leader, and we really lean on him a lot,” Clark explained.
Unionville is now 4-3 and the team seems to be hitting its stride at a critical point in the season.
“This team plays with a lot of pride,” Clark said. “We challenge these players and they keep rising to the challenge.”
Unionville finishes the season with games against Avon Grove and Sun Valley, but up first comes a difficult game on the road on Friday night against Bayard Rustin.
Oxford, meanwhile, hosts Great Valley on Friday night at 7 p.m. before closing out the season with games against Reading and West Chester East.