By KEV HUNTER
FRANCONIA TWP - In the fourth quarter Friday night, Souderton Area’s running game started taking over and Big Red also got a pivotal, game-tying touchdown from their special teams.
But Souderton just could not stop Indians quarterback Tom Pancoast.
Pancoast’s 30-yard touchdown run was the difference in Unionville’s 29-23 win over Big Red in a non-league contest at Souderton.
“Tom Pancoast is a fantastic athlete,” Big Red coach Ed Gallagher said. “He really put the team on his back and won the game for them.”
Pancoast had broken a 16-16 tie early in the fourth on a 61-yard scoring run. The versatile QB finished with 181 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries and he also threw for 73 yards and a touchdown.
“The offensive line was opening up some pretty big holes and I only had to win a one-on-one to pick up a big gain,” Pancoast said of his key runs. “Coming all the way up here to play a Suburban One team, this was a really big win for us.”
After Pancoast broke free for his first score, Big Red’s Anthony Williams took the ensuing kickoff all the way back 90 yards for a touchdown, tying it 23-23.
“That was huge. The blocking was very good on our wedge return and Anthony Williams is a very special athlete,” Gallagher said. “I figured once he gets a seam, I knew he could take it all the way in.”
The Indians (2-0) then used a nine-play drive, capped by Pancoast’s second score with 1:57 to play, to take the lead for good.
Souderton (1-1) had one final possession but could not pick up a first down.
Big Red had began the fourth quarter with an 80-yard drive, gaining 74 yards of it on the ground, to tie the game 16 all. Dan Knight scored untouched on a 15-yard run, as it looked like Souderton’s ground attack was gaining steam.
“It was opening up, and unfortunately we didn’t really get to do it again,” Gallagher said. “We had the kickoff return for a touchdown, which was nice, but when we got the ball back again with a minute and a half, (there wasn’t enough time).”
The two teams combined for 27 points in a wild fourth quarter.
“Never had that happen before,” Pancoast said smiling.
The first half had far fewer points but was tightly contested.
Unionville broke the scoreless tie on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Pancoast to Tim Christopher, who then picked up a bad snap on the extra-point attempt and threw to Dom DiBiaggio for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
Jeff Wolf then booted a 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter for Big Red, who took a 9-8 lead into halftime after Jarrett Reinhard caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from A.J. Curotto.
It was Souderton’s only lead of the evening, as Unionville pulled ahead 16-9 in the third on a 42-yard run by DiBiaggio. Pancoast’s ensuing two-point conversion run was a small preview of his much longer runs in the fourth.
“They’re a good football team. I give them a lot of credit,” Gallagher said.
“Their kids played very hard, they’re well-coached, well-disciplined kids. I told our kids, ‘you’re gonna be playing five more teams like that - playoff-caliber teams, and if we want to get to the playoffs, we’re gonna have to beat at least four of them, so we have to step it up.’”