By BRAD SPAHR
OXFORD - Unlike the Phillies, the Great Valley High School football team is going to be playing some meaningful games in October, and they couldn’t be more excited about the challenges that lie ahead.
The Patriots kept themselves tied for the Ches-Mont American Division lead on Friday night as they stayed perfect in league play with a gritty 26-12 road victory over Oxford in which they piled up a whopping 425 yards on the ground.
Great Valley (2-0 American, 4-1 overall) got a sensational performance from senior quarterback Chris Geiss, who rushed for a game-high 252 yards and scored on two key second-half touchdowns runs to help his team swing the momentum in what was a tight battle throughout.
Oxford (0-2, 3-2), which has now dropped two straight after a strong start, trailed 13-6 with 7:45 remaining when it appeared the Hornets had struck for a big touchdown pass that would’ve left them just an extra point away from tying the game. Quarterback Ethan Herb (206 yards passing) let loose on a perfectly thrown 27-yard pass on the play that hit a wide-open Collin Dawkins in stride in the end zone, but the ball bounced off his chest, and making matters worse for the home team, Great Valley’s Matt Morrison was there to make an interception as the ball bounced in the air following the drop.
Moments later, Geiss busted an 81-yard touchdown run on third-and-11 to give the Patriots a commanding 20-6 lead with 6:02 to go.
“Matt made a huge play for us on that interception, and we were riding the momentum from that point forward,” said Geiss. “On my run I just saw some daylight and took it.
“This was a great team effort. It was a huge win too, because now it sets up a really big game for us next week against West Chester Rustin.”
Oxford, to its credit, refused to go down easily as the Hornets got right back into the game less than a minute after what appeared to be a back-breaking scoring run by Geiss. They did so when Herb hit receiver Ryan Hubley on a 37-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 20-12 with 5:37 to go. Hubley had a big game for the Hornets, finishing with seven catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
Great Valley answered the bell when the pressure was on, though. They responded by marching right down the field on a clock-eating drive that featured a key 44-yard run by Geiss on third-and-three. It ended with Geiss breaking free on a 25-yard touchdown run with 3:04 left to make it 26-12.
“[Geiss] is the engine that moves our offense,” said Great Valley coach Mike Choi. “We have all the faith in the world in him and he really was outstanding tonight. He made the proper reads, and executed our option fantastically.”
Great Valley also got a terrific game from junior Cyree Ames, who picked up 120 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Oxford suffered a tough loss right before the half when leading rusher Musty Mahmud went down with a shoulder injury and didn’t return. Mahmud had a team-high 65 yards on 12 carries before suffering the injury.
“Losing him really hurt,” said Hornets coach Mike Pietlock. “I feel like we played with Great Valley all night. We had three turnovers in their end of the field, and obviously if we would’ve caught that touchdown pass in the fourth quarter it’s potentially a tie game.
“Great Valley is good. I give Geiss credit -- he was the best player on the field -- and he won the game for them.”
Max Burgess scored for Great Valley on the very first drive of the game, plowing into the end zone on a 2-yard run. The Patriots would carry that 7-0 lead all the way into halftime.
They upped their advantage to 13-0 midway through the third quarter on a 5-yard scoring run by River Johnson.
“Oxford blitzes from everywhere, and our assistant coaches did a great job game planning, and our offensive line was absolutely fantastic,” said Choi. “Any time you can get a league win -- it’s huge. We want to challenge for the league title, and we think we are capable of that.”
Great Valley 26, Oxford 12
Great Valley 7 0 6 13 -- 26
Oxford 0 0 6 6 -- 12
GV-Burgess 2 run (Cavanagh kick)
GV-R. Johnson 5 run (Kick failed)
OX-Hubley 19 pass from Herb (Kick failed)
GV-Geiss 81 run (Cavanagh kick)
OX-Hubley 37 pass from Herb (Kick failed)
GV-Geiss 25 run (Kick failed)
First downs 15 14
Yards rushing 425 114
Yards passing 31 206
Total yards 456 320
Passing 2-6-0 13-31-2
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-1
Penalties 6-55 5-45
Punts-Avg. 2-31.0 3-32.0
RUSHING - Great Valley: Geiss 23-252, 2TDs; Ames 12-120; Burgess 3-25, TD; R. Johnson 6-24, TD; Temple 3-4. Oxford: Mahmud 12-65; Turns 9-40; Rosa 4-11; Lopez 1-0; Herb 2-(-2).
PASSING - Great Valley: Geiss 2-6, 31 yds. Oxford: Herb 13-31, 206 yds, 2TDs, 2INTs.
RECEIVING - Great Valley: R. Johnson 2-31. Oxford: Hubley 7-128, 2TDs; Turns 2-37; Sumner 2-22; Dawkins 1-11; Davis 1-8.
SACKS - Great Valley: Durkan. Oxford: Bentz.
INTERCEPTIONS - Great Valley: Temple, Morrison. Oxford: none.