By ROBERT SENIOR
Journal Register News Service
MALVERN — “That’s a heartbreaker, isn’t it?”
With those five words, Great Valley coach Mike Choi summed up the Patriots’ Friday night football experience.
A furious fourth-quarter rally wasn’t enough to overcome division-leading Unionville, which took home a 35-27 decision.
“It’s a win — and that’s what we need right now,” summarized Unionville head coach Pat Clark, whose team improved to 6-2 on the season behind a diverse, creative offensive attack. “We weren’t firing on all cylinders tonight, but we knew we were in for a tough game.”
On the first play of the second half, leading 14-0, the Indians lined up in their usual pistol set — but instead of starting QB Tom Pancoast it was sophomore Alex Pechin, who does a little bit of everything for Unionville, who took the snap and found an open Tim Christopher for a 65-yard TD to widen the lead to 21-0.
After Great Valley broke the ice with a 41-yard scoring pass from Chris Geiss to Max Burgess, Unionville took possession again. This time, Pancoast pitched to Brad Pechin — older brother of Alex — who threw back to Pancoast for a 12-yard score.
“Well, you’ve got to have something, when they’re stuffing the run — you’ve got to have a trick,” Clark said of the two passing scores. “We really executed well — it’s hard to account for the quarterback on a pass route.”
The plays added some variety to a typically run-heavy Unionville offense, which was held to just over three yards a carry on their 48 runs. QB Pancoast led the way, grinding out 87 yards on 34 tough-as-nails carries.
“We couldn’t get anything going on the edge,” conceded Clark, “so we tried to run it up inside. But I think our passing game really turned things in our favor.”
The Indians’ two first-half scores came on short plunges from the 1-yard line, but both were set up by long passes by Pancoast, first to Christopher for 33 yards, then a 47-yarder to Sean Barnes on the second scoring drive of the night.
Geiss, who accounted for 364 of GV’s 400 yards of total offense, began the second-half rally for the Patriots with a 20-yard TD scamper just before the end of the third quarter. Pancoast would answer with his second tally of the night on the ground —and third overall— but Geiss kept Valley within striking distance with a 44-yard run to set up a 13-yard toss to River Johnson to narrow the deficit to 35-20.
After a Unionville three-and-out, Geiss found Burgess all alone in the left flat, with the tailback doing the rest for an 86-yard score to bring the Patriots within 8 with just under five minutes left. Again, the Patriots defense held, allowing Geiss and the offense one last chance. The offense managed a pair of first downs before Geiss just missed Steven Praplaski on a 4th down with under a minute to play.
“I’m really proud of this whole team — for three straight weeks we’ve come out and battled against some real powerhouse teams,” said Choi. “Chris really led the way tonight offensively, but these seniors, collectively, have helped us turn this program around to the point that we can set goals like competing for titles and playoff berths.”
For the Indians, those same goals seem well within reach this season. Clark reiterated the importance of keeping his team grounded and focused on the task at hand.
“We’ve got two more steps to take — big steps— before we can claim a championship,” he said. “We won tonight, but overall we are not satisfied. I think that’s when teams start to come together — when they develop a mindset to just get the job done. Overall, I’m pretty comfortable with where we are right now.”
Unionville 35, Great Valley 27
Unionville 7 7 14 7 – 35
Great Valley 0 0 13 14 – 27
U- Pancoast 1 run (A. Pechin kick)
U- B. Pechin 1 run (A. Pechin kick)
U- Christopher 65 pass from A. Pechin (A. Pechin kick)
GV- Burgess 41 pass from Geiss (Fugale kick)
U- Pancoast 12 pass from B. Pechin (A. Pechin kick)
GV- Geiss 20 run (PAT missed)
U- Pancoast 2 run (A. Pechin kick)
GV- Johnson 13 pass from Geiss (Fugale kick)
GV- Burgess 86 pass from Geiss (Fugale kick)
First Downs 13 11
Yards Rushing 155 182
Yards Passing 157 218
Total Yards 312 400
Passing 4-7-0 13-22-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties 5-35 6-65
Punts/Avg. 2/35 1/41
RUSHING: Unionville: Pancoast 34-87, 2 TD; B. Pechin 10-51, TD; Stradling 3-15; DiBiaggio 1-2.
Great Valley: Geiss 18-146, TD; Ames 8-23; R. Johnson 1-11; Burgess 1-2.
PASSING: Unionville: Pancoast 3-6-0, 92 yards; A. Pechin 1-1-0, 65 yards, TD.
Great Valley: Geiss 13-22-0, 218 yards, 3 TD.
RECEIVING: Unionville: Christopher 2-98, TD; Barnes 1-47; P.Johnson 1-12.
Great Valley: Burgess 5-141, 2 TD; R. Johnson 4-40, TD; Praplaski 2-29; Ames 1-6; Fitzpatrick 1-2.
SACKS: Unionville: Biggs.