By MATT CASSIDY
Journal Register News Service
After a shortened week of practice due to Hurricane Sandy, Sun Valley put together a strong first half on the road only to get trounced in the second half by a hefty storm of Great Valley offense, as the Patriots rolled up a 55-26 victory in the Ches-Mont American Division battle.
“The hurricane is no excuse for our play tonight,” said Sun Valley head coach Jim Grugan. “It was a disappointing second half and I give [Great Valley] credit but we never came out of the locker room at halftime.”
The game began with Great Valley’s Max Burgess returning the opening kickoff for an 85-yard score.
“If he gets by you with a full head of steam, there’s no way you can catch up to him,” said Great Valley quarterback and defensive back Chris Geiss with a chuckle. “I’m not used to anyone beating me in a race but he’s a track star and I can’t keep up with him.”
This early blow repeated itself after a Sun Valley touchdown when Burgess took the ball 75 yards to the end zone.
“Kickoffs have been a problem this year,” said Grugan. “Not every game, but we do break down on those plays in particular.”
After a Sean Fitzpatrick fumble early in the second quarter, Sun Valley took over possession on the Great Valley five-yard line. It took two plays, but Dan Griffin eventually powered through with his head down to make it a one-point game. After the second missed PAT for Sun Valley, the score stood at 13-12.
A solid stand by the Sun Valley defense forced a punt, which shifted the momentum. Both teams at their core were run teams, with only 6 passes in the entire first half. It took until the second quarter for Sun Valley quarterback T.J. Mancini to toss the ball down field. That pass happened to be a 59-yard bomb to Matt Cioeta, who needed a big play after his two missed PATs. Cioeta’s run after the catch set Sun Valley up at the opponent’s two-yard line. Dan Griffin took the handoff two yards for his second score of the day, giving Sun Valley their first lead of the contest. Mancini targeted Kevin McGarvey for the two-point conversion and Sun Valley took a 20-13 lead into halftime.
Unfortunately, Grugan’s boys never left the locker room to take the field in the second half.
“We didn’t react well to the adversity in the second half,” said Grugan.
Although Sun Valley received the kickoff to begin second-half play, their offense struggled and didn’t find the end zone until it was basically meaningless. When Great Valley took over after a punt, it only took two plays, one of which was a 72-yard run by Burgess, which knotted the game at 20 apiece.
Great Valley went on to score 21 points in each of the final two quarters. To make matters worse, two of the touchdowns were given up by the Sun Valley offense. Geiss had a decent day passing, completing only four passes on six attempts for 107 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. But his defensive play outshined any part of his day on offense. He picked off two of Mancini’s passes and ran them back for touchdowns on consecutive drives. His interceptions were only interrupted by one play of Sun Valley offense, if a loss of five on a carry can be considered offense at all.
“I’ve only played defensive back in two games and the other time I played I also had an interception that I returned for a touchdown,” said Geiss.
Great Valley’s win came from a disciplined team that fought back in the second half and created their own opportunities. The first four of Sun Valley’s seven second-half possessions ended in a three-and-out and a punt to Great Valley. The defensive coordinator must have found a weakness in the Sun Valley offense because the best shot Sun Valley had in those possessions on fourth down to convert was eight yards to go.
Not only did the defense smother Sun Valley but all four of those Great Valley possessions were turned into touchdowns. The ensuing Sun Valley possession was intercepted for a Geiss touchdown and was repeated two plays later.
Great Valley 55, Sun Valley 26
Sun Valley 6 14 0 6 -- 26
Great Valley 13 0 21 21 -- 55
GV-Burgess 85 kick return (Cavanagh kick)
SV-Mancini 1 run (Cioeta kick failed)
GV-Burgess 75 kick return (Cavanagh kick failed)
SV-Griffin 1 run (Ciota kick blocked)
SV-Griffin 2 run (McGarvey reception)
GV-Burgess 72 run (Cavanagh kick)
GV-Johnson 57 pass from Geiss (Cavanagh kick)
GV-Burgess 2 run (Cavanagh kick)
GV-Ames 44 pass from Geiss (Cavanagh kick)
GV-Geiss interception return (Cavanagh kick)
GV-Geiss interception return (Cavanagh kick)
SV-Mancini 1 run (pass failed)
First downs 25 18
Yards rushing 160 236
Yards passing 68 107
Total yards 228 343
Passing 2-10-2 4-6-1
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-2
Penalties 1-5 3-40
Punts-Avg. 6-36 2-34
RUSHING – SV: Riddle 9-63; Chandler 12-58; Griffin 14-49, 2 TDs; D’Angelo 1-2; Mancini 7-(-12), 2 TDs. GV: Burgess 5-115, 2 TDs; Johnson 4-33; Ames 5-26; Fitzpatrick 2-23; Temple 6-23; Geiss 9-16.
PASSING – SV: Mancini 2-10-2, 68 yards. GV: Geiss 4-6-1, 107 yards, 2 TDs.
RECEIVING – SV: Hunter 1-59; Riddle 1-9. GV: Ames 2-51, TD; Johnson 1-57, TD; Burgess 1-(-1).
SACKS – SV: None. GV: Durkan 2; Agnew.
INTERCEPTIONS – SV: McGarvey. GV: Geiss 2.