|Photo by Bill Rudick/ Octorara quarterback Alex Gooden ran for 202 yards in Friday's victory over Pequea Valley.|
By BILL RUDICK
KINZERS — The third annual Battle of the Braves appeared as though it might be a mismatch this time around, with Pequea Valley looking like it had a serious shot to finally break through with a win. Afterall, the Lancaster County Braves were off to a 2-0 start while their Chester County counterparts from Octorara were still looking for their first win.
The game did wind up being a mismatch, but it was all Octorara. The Braves rushed for 357 yards and played some stifling defense on the way to a convincing 25-6 victory on Pequea’s home turf.
“This was the first time this year I’ve seen the defense play as tough as they did tonight,” said Octorara coach Jed King. “With the way (quarterback Alex Gooden) ran the ball, really the way everyone ran the ball, it was a great total effort.”
Pequea simply had no answer for Gooden, who as an encore to last week’s 112-yard effort, nearly doubled that total, finishing the night with 202 yards on 18 carries.
“We felt we had a little momentum going with our running game,” said Gooden. “Each week, we’re getting better reads, our blocks are better, just better overall.”
The two teams were scoreless after one period of play, but then Octorara went to work in the second, scoring three times before halftime. 159 first-half yards from Gooden led to scores by Mahlik Norris (6 yards), a 1-yard plunge by Cory Cooper, and a 14-yard run from Shawn Devlin.
Meanwhile, the defense was pitching a shutout. The Braves allowed just 80 total yards in the game, and picked off a pass, and allowed just three first downs. The lone Pequea score came on a fourth-and-goal after a fumble on a punt gave Pequea the ball inside the Octorara 20.
“I’ve got to give credit to our defensive coordinator, Coach Douts,” said King. “He’s been with us since the beginning, and he put together a great package. They just couldn’t move on us at all.”
Pequea got just its second first down of the game in its first drive of the second half, but the Braves stiffened, and four plays later Octorara got the ball back at its own 11.
The subsequent Braves’ drive all but put the final nail in the coffin for Pequea. While Octorara didn’t score on the drive, it did march 70 yards on 14 plays before coughing it up at the 20. But more importantly, Octorara at up over 10 minutes of clock, and the remainder of the third period.
“Killing 10 minutes on the clock like that really set the tone,” said King. “With the way we were moving the ball and playing defense, that really killed any chance they might have had to come back on us.”
Octorara added one more score on the night, when Shawn Devlin ran it in from 25 yards out. Devlin finished the night with a pair of touchdowns, rushing for 65 yards on eight carries.
With the win, Octorara is 3-0 against its border rival.
“The whole week we’ve been changing our schemes to play this game,” said Anthony DiNorscia. “Tonight the line was plugging holes, and the linebackers were filling in the gaps. It was a great team effort.
“I’m a senior, and I didn’t want to leave having lost this game. It’s nice to know that we went 3-0 in the Battle of the Braves while I was here.”
Octorara 25, Pequea Valley 6
Octorara 0 18 0 7 -- 25
Pequea Valley 0 0 0 6 -- 6
O- Norris 6 run (kick failed)
O- Cooper 1 run (pass fail)
O- Devlin 14 run (run fail)
O- Devlin 25 run (Reynolds kick)
P- Smith 1 run (run fail)
First downs 16 3
Yards rushing 357 75
Yards passing 22 5
Total yards 379 80
Passing 3-4-0 2-9-1
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties 12-90 3-30
Punts-Avg. 1-34 3-28.7
RUSHING - Octorara: Gooden 18-202; Devlin 8-65, 2 TD; Cooper 11-43, TD; Norris 5-41; Rossiter 2-3; Whearry-Devlin 2-3. Pequea Valley: Hershey 2-35; Smith 4-17; Schmitt 6-9; Zander 2-7; Thomas 4-7.
PASSING - Octorara: Gooden 3-4-0, 22 yards. Pequea Valley: Smith 2-9-1, 5 yards.
RECEIVING - Octorara: DiNorscia 2-15; Devlin 1-7. Pequea Valley: Hershey 1-4; Farrell 1-1.
SACKS - None.
INTERCEPTIONS - Octorara: Robinson.