Unionville shuts down Oxford, 14-0

Win sets up showdown for 1st place with Great Valley

Unionville's James Watson closes in on Oxford quarterback Chandler England. Jim Gill photo.

Unionville’s James Watson closes in on Oxford quarterback Chandler England. Jim Gill photo.

By Al Tustin, Staff Writer, The Times

OXFORD — You could almost hear the echoes of the legendary John Fascenda carried on the the driving wind and drizzle. Two teams engaged in a hard-hitting defensive struggle, covered in mud, soaked to the skin — a true battle of wills that might well have made the old Monsters of The Midway feel right at home.

Unionville held off a determined Oxford squad, 14-0, in a rugged Ches Mont American Division battle Friday night.

The win leaves the Indians (3-3, 2-0) in first place in the American — and in control of their own destiny, as Great Valley lost a heartbreaker to West Chester Rustin, 31-27. Unionville hosts Great Valley Friday for a homecoming matchup that could well determined whether the Indians can defend their 2015 league title.

Unionville head coach Pat Clark said he knew his squad was in for a battle — and offered strong praise to Oxford head coach Mike Means for how well prepared his team was for the contest.

Unionville quarterback Joe zubillaga looks for running room behind Jack Adams (25) and chris D'Amico (12). Jim Gill photo.

Unionville quarterback Joe Zubillaga (1) looks for running room behind Jack Adams (25) and chris D’Amico (12). Jim Gill photo.

“Mike Means is a good football coach and their kids are comparable to our kids,” Clark said. “And you’re going to get good games out them. I thought our defense did a great job — we made a bunch of stops and we were efficient on offense.”

For the Hornets — a far better team than their 1-5, 0-3 record might indicate — it was a night of frustration as they moved the ball fairly well against a “bend-but-don’t-break” Unionville defense.

“We pride ourselves on defense,” Clark said. “We had a tough one last week (a loss to Downingtown East), but it was big for our kids to bounce back. If they (Oxford) don’t score, it’s tough for them to win.”

The scores — one in each half — came off hard-fought drives and Unionville’s power running game, which at times was able to get a push against the aggressive Oxford defense. Jack Adams scored the Indians’ first TD — following a drive on which he and QB Joe Zubillaga fought for tough yards on the ground.

Unionville's Trevor Gardiner makes an impressive open field tackle of Oxford's Tim Davis. Jim Gill photo.

Unionville’s Trevor Gardiner makes an impressive open field tackle of Oxford’s Tim Davis. Jim Gill photo.

The second score completed a sequence that was arguably more pivotal: the Hornets took the opening kickoff of the second half and proceeded to grind the ball down the field — moving 80 yards and eating the clock. But mistakes by Oxford — and Unionville’s ability to maintain composure in a key moment — stopped the drive cold. A pair of penalties pushed the Hornets into a fourth-and-long situation and the Indians’ defense held.

That stop sparked Unionville onto its second and final scoring drive.

Again, it was Zubillaga — bringing echoes of former standout Unionville quarterback Tom Pancost (now a tight end at Penn State) — who showed a tough running style, including a 49-yard romp, on the drive. Adams capped the drive again, this time from 10 yards out — and with Matt Mainwaring’s extra point (Mainwaring had a strong night battling the winds as Unionville’s kicker and punter), the Indians held on for the 14-0 win.

Friday night’s contest between Unionville and Great Valley could either lock up the Indians’ grip on first place in the Ches Mont American Division with a win — or create a four-way tie for first with a loss, with Sun Valley likely to hold off Octorara, the winner of Rustin-Kennett and Great Valley and Unionville all with one league loss.

The Patriots (4-2, 2-1) are an offensive powerhouse behind quarterback Robert Geiss — who threw for almost 200 yards in the loss Friday against Rustin, while running for 75 more yards. While the Indians pride themselves on defense, it’s likely the offense is going to have to step up.

“They have skill kids all over the place,” Clark said of Great Valley. “To win, we’re going to have to play great defense. And we’re probably going to have to find more than 14 points to win the game.”

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