Blue Demons ruin Longhorns’ Homecoming, 27-1410/11/2023 01:57PM ● By Richard Gaw
As the Unionville Homecoming crowd began to file out last Friday evening after their varsity football team’s 27-14 loss to Kennett, a lone Longhorn Marching Band tuba played a solemn refrain.
In musical contrast, the sweaty and victorious Blue Demon team stood at attention on the other side of the field for the school’s alma mater, which was followed by a rowdy celebration with their fellow classmates. Both players and students seemed thrilled to have played the part of spoiler, in a game that added another notch to the long history of a cross-town rivalry.
Coming onto the contest, Unionville Head Coach Tim Murphy chose sophomore quarterback Tommy McGinnis to lead his offense, and on their first possession, the lefty slinger promptly replied. On third and long from their own 14-yard line, McGinnis found wide receiver Mick Levendis for an 86-yard touchdown with 6:43 left in the first quarter that gave the Longhorns an early 7-0 lead.
Two facts about the first quarter would emerge for both teams – one at the end of the half and one that was seen immediately. McGinnis’ TD toss to Levendis would be Unionville’s only pass completion of the first half, and Blue Demon quarterback Chase Patalano, who had been injured for most of the season, would make his return to action on a high note. The senior’s screen pass to wide receiver Joalex Carabajal deep in the first quarter gained 40 yards and gave Kennett the ball on the 5-yard line, which was followed by Patalano’s 4-yard touchdown run with 2:53 remaining in the quarter that tied the score.
Upon the ensuing kick-off to Unionville (2-5 overall), the ball squibbed ten yards before being picked up by Kennett’s Xavier McGreal at the Unionville 42-yard line, preventing the Longhorns from mounting a go-ahead drive. On its second possession of the second quarter, Unionville began a substantive scoring drive on its own 17-yard line that was bolstered by runs by McGinnis and running back Brody McLaughlin that gave the Longhorns the ball on the Kennett 30-yard line. With 1:31 left in the half, however, kicker Luciano Palagruto’s 30-yard field attempt went wide left, ending the first half with both teams tied at 7.
Led by Patalano and a crushing defense that forced Unionville into errors, Kennett (3-4 overall) used the second half to tack on 20 additional points. After holding Unionville to one yard on its first possession of the third quarter, Kennett’s defense gave the ball back to Patalano, who on 4th and 8 on Unionville’s 34-yard line tossed a 34-yard touchdown strike to McGreal with 4:27 left that gave the Blue Demons a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Early in the fourth quarter, a muffed snap on a Unionville punt attempt pushed Palagrulo back to the Longhorn 30-yard line, which was immediately followed by Patalano’s 30-yard touchdown pass to running back Ian Guyer with 9:19 left in the game to give Kennett a 20-7 lead.
[Patalano] combines experience and athleticism, which gives our team a lot of confidence,” Head Coach Lance Frazier said of his starting quarterback. “He can create plays, he can run, he is not someone you really want to have to tackle when he gets into open space, and he can throw. He’s like a Swiss Army knife. Our guys know his capability and it’s been a blessing to have him.”
Although a decent kick-off return by Hayden Wenturine gave Unionville the ball at Kennett’s 36-yard line, the drive was snuffed out by an interception by defensive back Jackie Good, who then ran 78 yards to the 2-yard line with 8:38 left. On third and goal from the 1-yard line, Guyer carried it in for a touchdown with 6:59 left to round out Kennett’s scoring.
Set up by Charlie Almeida’s 66-yard kick-off return, Unionville inherited the ball on Kennett’s 8-yard line later in the fourth quarter. Following a McGinnis carry and a Kennett penalty, McGinnis plunged for a 1-yard TD with 5:28 remaining to bring the score to 27-14.
For Frazier, the win was a much-needed boost for the Blue Demons, who entered the game having been held scoreless in consecutive losses to Bayard Rustin, Downingtown East and Interboro.
“Any time you’ve had the stretch that we have had, it shows that you’ve been battle tested,” he said. “We talked to them this week about learning things when you are in battle. It’s easy to complain and it’s easy to make excuses, but what are we going to learn from these past few weeks, and how can we turn that around this week?
“We saw them reach back into that and put it out on the field today.”
The win gave Kennett a 3-1 record in the Ches-Mont American Division and sets up a home matchup against West Chester East on Oct. 13. Now 2-2 in the Ches-Mont American, Unionville will travel to Great Valley on Oct. 13.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].
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