Unionville holds off Great Valley, 31-14

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Unionville QB Blake Charlton lets loose as Great Valley’s Josh Burgess bears down on him.

By Al Tustin, Sports Editor, The Times

MALVERN — With two teams facing an all but “must-win” game, even this early in the season. The solution was obvious: let it rip.

And that they did as Unionville held off Great Valley, 31-14, in a contest where both teams displayed an explosive passing game, big plays and some drama until the 1-3 Indians were able to put the game away in the second half in the Ches Mont American opener for both teams, Friday night.

For Unionville, which had been off to its worst start since Head Coach Pat Clark took over in 2005, it was a reversion to form, featuring a fierce defense that got stops when it was needed and relied on a big-play offense.

More importantly, for the Indians, it was their best four-quarter display of intensity after three uneven games to start the season.

“We played hard,” Clark said. “And we played, tough, physical defense. Our kids responded. We’re into league play and I think our non-league schedule will benefit us. I was real proud of our effort — we weren’t perfect, but effort makes up when you make mistakes.”

Unionville’s Joe Fariello takes a toss from Blake Charlton.

For the 1-3 Patriots, although senior QB Jake Prevost was able to keep his team in the game with his arm, going 15 of 28 for 210 yards and TD, they were ultimately let down by their defense, which at first couldn’t contain the Indians’ pass game, and then, finally got worn down by the run in the second half. A swarming Indians’ defense harassed Prevost the entire game, recording four sacks.

Although Unionville struggled a bit early in the run game, junior QB Blake Charlton managed to keep drives alive with his arm — ending up a highly efficient 11 of 15 for 200 yards and two TD — and keep the ball away from Great Valley.

After a scoreless first, Unionville broke onto the scoreboard with a 39-yard field goal by senior Dominic Braithwaite to make it 3-0. After the Indians bent, but did not break, stopping a Patriot drive on downs on the Unionville 23, they scored quickly. After a Connor Schilling run for a first down, Charlton hit Joe Fariello for a 62-yard TD pass. With Braithwaite’s extra point, Unionville grabbed a 10-0 lead.

Great Valley’s Jake Prevost fires down field as Unionville’s Adam Cherubini gets a hand up to block.

Great Valley looked to respond with an impressive drive, marching down to the Unionville 3, before Phillip Wellner attempted a short field goal in the closing seconds of the half — but Unionville senior Mason Glennon had other ideas, managing to both race in and block the kick, and come up with the ball and race more than 80 yards for the score. With Braithwaite’s extra point, what looked to be a tense contest was suddenly 17-0 at the half.

The Pats opened the second half hot, determined to climb back into the game, and they did. After Prevost hit senior wideout Ben Kerecman with a 50 yard pass, Amani Christopher scored from four out to make the score 17-7.

After series of defensive stops by both teams, a bad punt snap over the head of Josh Burgess proved damaging for Great Valley, turning the ball over to the Indians at the Great Valley 29. Charlton got a bit of luck here — his pass to Nick Schnaars was a bit underthrown, but popped through the hands of defensive back Ryan Banavich, right into Schnaars’ hands for another TD. With Braithwaite’s extra point, the Indians grabbed a commanding 24-7 lead.

But the Pats immediately struck back, scoring on a 69-yard pass from Prevost to Brendan O’Donnell, slashing the Unionville lead to 24-14.

Any hope of a Great Valley comeback was dampened as Unionville managed to get its run game going, behind Schnaars and Schilling, eating the clock marching down the field, capping the drive with a 13-yard run by Schnaars to make 34-14, with Braithwaite’s extra point.

Forced to pass, the Pats were unable to get anything going in the final quarter, while Unionville was able to run enough to chew down the clock and preserve the win.

Unionville hosts a much-improved Oxford next Friday, while Great Valley hosting Downingtown West.

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