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Chester County Press

Scattolino late TD pass lifts Longhorns to 26-20 victory

09/06/2023 11:53AM ● By Richard Gaw

Over the course of his 15 years as an assistant coach for the Unionville Indians-Longhorns football teams, Tim Murphy played a part in countless victories under long-time Head Coach Pat Clark.

For the first time in 20 years last Friday evening, however, there was a new sheriff in charge – Murphy – who racked up his first career victory as Head Coach with a 26-20 victory over Sun Valley (0-2) on a fourth-quarter, 17-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Dominic Scattolino to tight end Nolan Holt that broke a 20-20 tie.

On its first possession of the game, Unionville (1-1) set the tone for what would become a back-and-forth tussle with a ten-play, 62-yard drive that finished with a one-yard TD carry by running back Owen Simcox with 5:31 left in the first quarter. After Sun Valley’s four-and-out gave the ball to the Longhorns near midfield, Unionville took advantage of a 15-yard penalty and two runs by Scattolino to move to the 14-yard line, ending on a TD carry by running back Brody McLaughlin with 43 seconds left in the quarter that staked Unionville to a 13-0 lead.

With 18 seconds remaining in the quarter, a strong kick-off return by the Vanguards’ Noah Griffin gave Sun Valley good field position near midfield. After his two carries, quarterback RJ Scharrer found wide receiver Josh Yanonis on a slant pattern for a 33-yard score with 18 seconds left in the quarter.

Scattolino engineered another touchdown drive in the second quarter that was highlighted by a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Drew Puleo that moved the ball to the two-yard line. On third and goal, McLaughlin plunged for a one-yard touchdown with 6:12 left in the half that gave Unionville a 20-7 lead.

After a huge kick-off return by Jhamil Smith got Sun Valley to the Unionville 30-yard line, Scharrer fired a 16-yard TD strike to running back Jack Penzone with 3:35 left in the first half that cut the Longhorns’ lead to 20-14.

On their third play of the second half, the Vanguards tied the game 20-20 on a 65-yard touchdown run by Griffin with 11:42 left in the third quarter, and suddenly, what began with all the signs of a rout was now a nip-and-tuck, early-season contest between two teams itching to get into the win column. 

After the Vanguards surrendered their next possession on downs on the Unionville 22-yard line, Scattolino again helped march his team forward that began with his 9-yard run and continued with an over-the middle pass to Holt that moved the ball to the 29 yard-line. A Scattolino carry and two runs by running back Tristan Mcilrath got the Longhorns to the 17-yard line that led to Scattolino’s game-winning pass to Holt with 4:35 left in the game.

If the Longhorns’ offense was responsible for the win, its fourth-quarter defense was responsible for preserving it. Backed up to its own 20-yard line, the Vanguards were offset by a rash of penalties and upset by an aggressive defense led by Simcox and lineman Jack Hyman, who hurried Scharrer into incomplete passes, including his last that came on fourth-and-six with 2:09 left in the game. 

Moments after he was congratulated by every member of his team and his coaches, Murphy reflected on his first win as a head coach.

“This victory is more about the kids,” Murphy said. “They show up each and every day and they had a heck of a performance and a great effort. We came off a season that we’re not used to having at Unionville (3-7 overall in 2022), and our kids understood that and said that they want to return to Unionville football.

“We have gone back to that mindset of being physical up front, running the ball well, playing good defense and being effective on special teams. We were there at times tonight, and I think our guys are starting to grasp that mindset.”

The Longhorns will travel to Oxford this Friday for a Ches-Mont American battle against winless Oxford, while Sun Valley will look to get into the win column when they host Great Valley on the same night.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].