GRATERFORD >> He was caught in no man’s land.
Seeing his receiver slip in the mud, Perkiomen Valley’s Stephen Sturm braced for impact, the ball coming out as Pennsbury’s Joe Maurer levied a devastating blow.
It was a foreshadowing of what was to come.
Pennsbury, tied with Perkiomen Valley at 21 at the end of the first half, forced three second half turnovers which proved to be the fatal blow to Perkiomen Valley’s season as the Falcons emerged 41-28 victors in the District 1-AAAA second round Saturday at Thomas J. Keenan Stadium.
Quarterback Mike Alley spearheaded the Falcons’ rushing attack with 81 yards and three touchdowns, his last two helping expand a seven-point lead into a 20-point advantage with 11 minutes remaining in the game. Robert Daly contributed 71 yards and a score while Chris Rupprecht added 70 as the Falcons found paydirt on six of their 10 possessions. The reigning district champion advances to the District 1-AAAA semifinals against Upper Dublin Friday at 7 p.m.
“We came in like we come in every game,” Alley said. “We don’t let the seeds or the numbers get in our heads, we know it’s a war, it’s playoff football. Every team is good here. We know we like to establish the run, and you have to give credit to our offensive line, without those guys we don’t run the ball like we would.”
Sturm finished the game 22-of-34 with 273 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss, which was the first home district game for PV since the 2007 opening round. The junior signal caller finished the season with a PAC-10 single-season record 3,087 yards and 31 touchdowns. Junior wideout Justin Jaworski finished the season with 1,195 yards (also a PAC-10 single-season record) after hauling in seven receptions for 146 yards, including the Vikings’ initial score of the game in the first quarter.
Ronnie Arch closed out his PV career rushing for 71 yards and a score on nine carries while Aaron Morton hauled in four receptions for 36 yards as the Vikings closed out the season with 10 wins for the second time in three years, making the district playoffs in each year.
“I think it speaks well to our school and our league that we’re able to come into the District 1 tournament and win some games,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed said. “That’s something we’re very proud of and we’re proud of anybody from our league that can come in and get wins. District 1, as public schools go, is as competitive that you’ll find across the state. I’m proud of our coaches, I’m proud of our players, I’m proud of our school.
“It’s awesome, here we are three years in a row, in the playoffs. Obviously only one team gets to win the last game but I’m proud of where our program is now.”
For a half, it looked as if the Vikings would be making their second appearance in the district semifinals in three seasons.
Perk Valley matched Pennsbury blow-for-blow in the first 24 minutes, answering Luke Snyder’s 21-yard touchdown reception on the Falcons’ first drive with a Sturm to Jaworski 32-yard touchdown connection to make it 7-6. After Nate Bost returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards, Sturm led his team down the field on an eight-play, 73-yard drive that culminated with a one-yard sneak from the quarterback.
Alley then scored his first touchdown to make it 21-14 midway through the second before the Vikings answered back, Arch bulldozing his way in from 1-yard out to make it 21-21 entering the break.
From there, it unraveled.
Sturm fumbled on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, stuck after his primary receiver slipped out of his break, giving Pennsbury the ball at PV’s 20.
Daly rushed for his lone score of the game four plays later, exploding up the middle for a 10-yard score that made it 27-21.
After a three and out the next possession, the Falcons went on the attack again, scoring on their next two possessions to make it 41-21 — a lead that PV ultimately couldn’t battle back from after an interception and fumble sandwiched PV’s last scoring drive.
“The game was going both ways in the first half but our defense played lights out in the second half,” Alley said. “They forced turnovers, caused mistakes, incomplete passes, blocked balls and tackled very well.”
“Our defense, I thought they were outstanding, especially in the second half,” Reed said. “They came up with some huge stops. They (Pennsbury) scored three touchdowns in the whole second half, one was set up by the fumble. There’s a reason they’re the District 1 defending champs.
“We did exactly what we needed to do, we made them earn everything and forced them to make some plays on third or fourth down. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t and that’s what it comes down to in these games, who can make those plays on third and fourth downs. When you’re playing a team like that, every possession matters and unfortunately we coughed the ball up.”
The loss marked the end of the careers of 18 seniors, notably Morton, Tim Nestor, Arch, TJ Foley, Ryan Light, Jack Lindberger, John Tittle and Anthony Rohrbach.
“Our captains are Ronnie Arch and TJ Foley and they’re more leaders by example, but boy did they lead by example this year,” Reed said. “John Tittle and Anthony Rohrbach were two of our offensive linemen that I thought were great and solid for us up front. On defense, I couldn’t say enough about Ryan Light, Tim Nestor, those guys give you everything they got. Jack Lindberger, he’s a small little guy that just throws his body around. It’s a pleasure to coach this football team and those seniors were a pleasure to be around.”
“Our junior class is great, everyone knows that,” Jaworski said. “But don’t look past our seniors, they really brought a lot to our team. TJ (Foley) is the best defensive lineman in the league, no doubt. Ryan Light, I think is the best linebacker. All across the board, our seniors, this was their season.”
One that will stand as successful even in a season-ending loss.
NOTES >> Alley finished the game with 86 yards passing. … Luke Snyder (27 yards) and Vinnie Ratamess (59 yards) both finished with two receptions for Pennsbury. … Pennsbury was 6-for-13 on third down and 3-for-3 on fourth down. Perkiomen Valley finished 4-for-11 on third down and 3-for-4 on fourth downs. … The Vikings finished with 322 yards of total offense to Pennsbury’s 308.
|November 20, 2015||7:00 pm||PAC||2015|
|Player||Comp||Att||Yds||TD||Int.||Rush Att.||Rush Yds||Rush TD||Rec||Rec Yds||Rec. TD||Sacks||Def. Int||XPM||XPA|