|Photo by Nate Heckenberger/ Unionville quarterback Tom Pancoast scampers in for a touchdown during Friday's 13-7 win over West Chester Rustin.|
By NATE HECKENBERGER
EAST MARLBOROUGH -- As if beating West Chester Rustin wasn’t difficult enough, dealing with the ghosts of seasons past made things even tougher on Unionville.
So many times in the past four seasons it was the Golden Knights coming up with the key plays in tight games against Unionville. But at home Friday night, the Indians were the ones converting on fourth-and-goal and making the stop on fourth-and-one inside its own five.
Add Tommy Pancoast’s legs to a valiant defensive effort, and Unionville was finally able to stave off Ches-Mont American Division rival Rustin, 13-7, on a night when another heartbreak looked inevitable.
It was the first time the Indians defeated the Knights (0-1, 3-1) since 2007, snapping Rustin’s 22-game win streak within the division.
“The kids really rose to the challenge,” Unionville coach Pat Clark said. “Our defense was phenomenal, to hold them to seven points and stop them on a couple fourth downs. We kept our poise throughout and our offense was able to control the clock.”
Pancoast got things started for the Indians (1-0, 3-1), sprinting for an 85-yard touchdown on the first play of Unionville’s second series. The senior quarterback finished with 199 yards on 23 carries, after losing four yards on three kneel downs to end the game.
Rustin, who went three-and-out on its first three drives, found life early in the second with Mike Pernsley coming off the bench for a few nice runs. Dave Fithian hit Dan Walls down the left sideline for a 42-yard reception, and two plays later Adam Burke scored his 10th rushing- and 12th total- touchdown of the season to tie it at 7.
It was in the second half that Unionville’s size and depth proved pivotal. The Indians ran the ball 12 times for 80 yards on their opening drive, the final yard coming on a fourth-and-goal TD scamper by Pancoast. It was Unionville’s second fourth-and-short conversion inside Rustin’s 10 of the drive.
“Once we got to their goal line they played really tough,” Pancoast said. “We fought for every yard. It was good to punch it in finally and get the score.”
For Clark, there was really only one option in the biggest spot of the game.
“The kid has been there for us in some big games,” Clark said of Pancoast. “He said ‘let me run downhill, coach’ and that was end of story.”
But a botched snap, leaving it 13-7, brought back bad memories for Clark and his staff of the 2008 matchup in which Rustin won, 7-6, thanks to a missed extra point.
After a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, Rustin caught its break, recovering a fumble on Unionville’s 24. But seven plays later, Burke was stopped by Unionville a half yard short on fourth-and-one at the Unionville three.
“The difference in the game is on the fourth-and-goals they stopped us and we didn’t,” Rustin coach Mike St. Clair said. “(Unionville) did a great job on defense and their quarterback is a very good athlete.”
Though the Indians didn’t score on the following possession, they ran 12 plays and took 7 minutes, 34 seconds off the clock. Prior to Rustin’s final drive, Unionville ran 25 plays to the Knights’ 11, as Pancoast and the offensive line led by Lenny Johnson and Andrew Jones wore on the Knights.
“(Unionville) has a little size up front, and we don’t have the size we’re used to,” St. Clair said. “They wore us down a little bit, but we bent but didn’t break. We just couldn’t get it done at the end.”
With 3:40 remaining, Rustin got its final chance on just its third drive of the second half. A hook-and-lateral to Tyler Seal and then to Jack Muliawan garnered 18 yards, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty took the Knights 15 yards back to the Unionville 40. After a negative run and three incomplete passes, the final broken up by Indians’ Zach Barnes, Unionville could finally celebrate.
“It feels great,” Pancoast said, “to finally beat Rustin after they’d taken us out the last four years. We played a great game offensively, and the defense got it done when we had to.”
Unionville hosts Coatesville next Saturday for its last non-league game, and will then shift its focus entirely to reclaiming the league title it hasn’t won since 2007. With a deeper American Division, the task is far from over, but the Indians have an early leg up.
“I told the kids, once we get to first place in the league we have the opportunity to protect it each week,” Clark said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s better to play up front than to try and catch up from behind. We’ll fight every week to stay first.”
Unionville 13, West Chester Rustin 7
West Chester Rustin 0 7 0 0 - 7
Unionville 7 0 6 0 - 13
UV- Pancoast 85 run (Barnes kick)
WCR- Burke 4 run (Jenkins kick)
UV- Pancoast 1 run (snap failed)
First downs 6 12
Yards rushing 111 309
Yards passing 57 9
Total yards 168 318
Passing 4-11-0 2-7-1
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties 3-25 4-34
Punts-Avg. 5-42 2-31.5
RUSHING - WCR: Pernsley 9-42; Burke 14-41, TD; Muliawan 1-13; Loper 6-11; Fithian 2-4; Lamberjack 1-0. UV: Pancoast 23-199, 2 TDs; Pechin 9-54; Stradling 9-23; Scargill 6-25; DiBaggio 2-8.
PASSING - WCR: Fithian 4-11, 57 yards. UV: Pancoast 2-7, 9 yards, INT.
RECEIVING - WCR: Seal 2-9; Walls 1-42; Burke 1-6. UV: Johnson 1-4; Scargill 1-5.
SACKS - WCR: none. UV: none.
INTERCEPTIONS - WCR: Seal. UV: none.