Late TD run leads West Chester East past Indians, 27-23
By Richard Gaw
There were few students, parents, coaches, players and general spectators who witnessed the waning moments of West Chester East’s 27-23 comeback victory over Unionville on Aug. 29 who would not, at least reluctantly, apply the word “resilient” to this year’s Indian team.
Following a 73-yard touchdown run by East running back Kyle Chicanowsky with 2:20 left in the game that overcame a two-point deficit and clinched the victory, the Indians inherited the ball on their own 33-yard line. Senior quarterback Blake Charlton, who had engineered each of Unionville’s touchdown drives earlier in the game, found wide receiver Bryce Whitlock for a 10-yard gain, followed by a two-yard run by running back Connor Schilling that got the ball to the 45. A pass to Schilling then put the ball on the East 45, and Charlton again spotted Whitlock in the center of the field, moving the ball to the East 21-yard line.
Yet, as a conclusion to a game where the Indians were stymied by turnovers, Charlton’s pass attempt fell into the hands of defensive back Kunal Mahweshwari with 37 seconds left in the game.
“They’re a good football team, but we made it easy on them defensively. We just weren’t very good,” said Unionville head Coach Pat Clark. “We didn’t keep leverage and we didn’t tackle, and if you don’t keep leverage and you don’t tackle, it doesn’t matter what defense you call.”
Coming off a season-opening 25-11 win over Henderson on Aug. 23, Unionville broke open the game early, on a nine-play touchdown drive that ended when Charlton scored on a 10-yard QB keeper that was set up by runs by Schilling and two passes to Whitlock.
With time running out in the first quarter, a carry by Chicanowsky gained 43 yards to get the ball to the Unionville 17-yard line, which was followed by his 17-yard touchdown run with 1:13 left in the quarter that knotted the score at 7.
Throughout the game, both teams were hindered by costly turnovers. After downing a spectacular punt by Unionville’s Declan Boyle at their own nine-yard line early in the second quarter, West Chester drove the ball on a pass to Mahweshwari and a carry by running back Joey Wileczek that got the ball to the 35-yard line. A pass from quarterback Ryan Ruell to wide receiver Jack Scott was fumbled and recovered by the Indians’ Ryan Sassi, but on the first play from scrimmage, Unionville turned the ball back over to the Vikings on a fumble.
After holding East to no gain, Charlton led his team from his own 19-yard line with the help of ball carrying and receiving by Schilling, Sean Kelly and Weston Grim. After a carry by Grim got the ball to the Viking five-yard line, Charlton lofted a perfect timing pass to Whitlock in the corner of the end zone with 43 seconds left in the second quarter, giving the Indians a 14-7 halftime lead.
East began the second half by chewing up the first eight minutes of the third quarter, slowly moving up the field in a scoring drive that ended when Chicanowsky scored on a seven-yard run with 3:55 left in the quarter, tying the score at 14.
Effectively using the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth, playmakers Charlton, Schilling, Grim and Kelly again used the possession to get the ball to the Red Zone, where with 10:03 left in the game, a 23-yard field goal by Indian kicker Stefan Twombly gave the Indians a 17-14 lead.
On the ensuing kick-off to East, a fumble on the run back was picked up by Unionville’s Ben Martin, which gave the Indians the ball at the 20-yard line; and on the fifth play, Charlton dove over the pile at the one-yard-line with 7:29 left to give Unionville a 23-14 lead.
One possession before Chicanowsky’s touchdown run rounded out East’s scoring, the Indians surrendered a touchdown with 5:56 remaining in the game, when Ruell found Wileczek at midfield with a short pass, which he promptly took to the house with an untouched scamper up the East sideline that pulled the Vikings to 23-21.
Despite the loss, Clark called the game a “good early season test. We’re still at the point where we’re still figuring things out,” he said. “Some guys are still getting their varsity legs, and they made a few more plays than we did. We’ll get it worked out and come back and play better football than we did this week.”
Now 1-1 in the early campaign, Unionville travels to Great Valley on Sept. 6 for a 7 p.m. start, while 2-0 West Chester East hosts Sun Valley on Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].