Unionville overwhelms Octorara, 54-7

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Unionville’s Alex gorgone threw for four TD leading the Indians past Octorara, 54-7.

By Al Tustin, Staff Writer, The Times

ATGLEN — For about three minutes, Thursday night, it looked like Unionville might be looking past Octorara to this coming week’s showdown with West Chester Rustin.

The Braves (2-4, 0-2), struggling through their final year in the Ches Mont, stunned the undefeated Indians when Sye Hall ripped off a 68-yard run on the game’s second play to set up an early score.

But that score seemed to focus Unionville (6-0, 3-0), which completely dominated from there and cruised to an easy 54-7 win — in what may be the final matchup between the teams, as the Braves depart for a Lancaster County-based league that better fits their enrollment starting next season.

“Asking kids to be their best all the time — it’s easy for me to talk about it — but I know it’s hard to do it,” Unionville head coach Pat Clark said after the game. “But I’m glad the kids are stepping up and demanding it from each other.”

Unionville running back Connor Schilling fights for yards.

With senior running backs Dante Graham and Jack Adams sidelined due to minor injuries/illness (both are expected back next week), senior QB Alex Gorgone was on his game, throwing four TD passes and no interceptions (there were no turnovers for either team in the game) and 160 yards on 7 of 12 passing. After the early lapse, the Indians’ defense was stout, shutting down the Octorara attack completely. Joe Zubillaga had a pair of sacks and Braves QB Trent Pawling found himself under strong pressure throughout the game. Sophomore running back Connor Schilling ran for 46 yards and had 75 yards in receiving yards, while senior JT Hower had 157 all-purpose yards, including an electric kickoff return score.

After giving up the early score, the Indians went right to work, with a brisk 68-yard drive, keyed by a Gorgone to Nick Schnaars pass for 34 yards.  Zubillaga’s 10-yard scoring run capped the drive, typing the game midway through the opening quarter.

After holding the Braves to a three-and-out, Unionville again marched down the field, scoring on a Gorgone pass to Sam Ross from 18 yards out to grab a 14-7 lead. After another three-and-out to end the first quarter, Unionville struck again.

After burying themselves on their own 25 after a series of penalties — one of which called back a TD — and facing 3-and-30, Gorgone hit Connor Schilling for a 75 yard-TD pass. With Dominic Braithwaite’s extra point, Unionville held a commanding 21-7 lead.

Unionville’s JT Hower breaks into the open against Octorara.

After another Octorara three-and-out – and then a Unionville drive stalling at the Octorara 26 — the Braves were held to yet another three-and-out. On the ensuing punt, Hower ripped off a big return — 39 yards — setting the Indians up on the Braves’ 15. Gorgone immediately hit Zubillaga for a scoring pass and it was 28-7.

Unionville got another quick stop and again got the ball in Octorara territory after a sack by Ross and Zack Lawrence turned the ball over on downs at the 32 with 1:32 left in the half. After a first down TD pass was called back due to a penalty, Gorgone hit Schnaars from 16 yards out to make it 35-7 with :41 left in the half.

After a very very quick four-and-out – three incomplete passes sandwiching a six-yard run by Pawling, the Indians got the ball back one last time with :13 left in the half on the Braves’ 31. Hower scored on an end around on the first play. Although Braithwaite’s extra point kick was blocked, Unionville held a commanding 41-7 lead at the half.

Hower ended any question about the outcome by returning the second half kickoff 84 yards for a score. After another blocked extra point kick, Unionville led 47-7.

Both teams mounted moderate drives, largely keeping the ball on the ground, but were unable to convert, eating time off the clock, killing off the third quarter.

In the final quarter, both teams began inserting junior varsity players into the mix, with a mostly young Indians’ defense managing to stall an Octorara drive at the Indians’ 17. Then the Unionville JV offense marched down the field against an Octorara JV defense – Wes Grim gained 78 yards rushing on the drive (and ended up as the top Unionville rusher in the game), the young Indians ate the clock and marched down the field, scoring in the final seconds, when Grim powered it in from the three to make it 53-7. A Stefan Twombly extra point capped the scoring at 54-7.

And while the win was satisfying for Unionville, now the focus turns to this week’s battle with Rustin — likely to decide the champion of the Ches Mont American Division — as the winner of this game has won the league title in each of the last seven years.

“They’re a phenomenal team,” Clark said of Rustin. “Nick Benoit is really good, and linebacker JT Aloisio is solid and Ty Pringle is back for them and their quarterback Will Pileggi does some nice things — so we have our work cut out for us this week.”

With the Indians currently the two-time defending league champions, it’s clear that the Knights will be spoiling to win their first league title since 2014.

“Those kids (Rustin) have a tremendous amount of pride,” Clark said. “I think our programs are mirror images of us in a lot of ways. I know them pretty well from the coach on down. Mike St. Clair does a great job and he’s fiery and competitive and his kids won’t give an inch and I don’t think our kids will give an inch, either.”

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