GRATERFORD >> The biggest question mark surrounding Pennridge so far this season has been their play in the defensive secondary.
Prior to Friday night, the Rams had allowed 475 passing yards and four touchdowns combined through their first two games.
Cue the Perkiomen Valley quarterback-wide receiver duo of Stephen Sturm and Justin Jaworski.
The dynamic pair connected for nearly 300 yards through the air in Perkiomen Valley’s 38-20 win over Pennridge on Friday night at Thomas J. Keenan Stadium.
“I don’t think we surprise anyone anymore,” said Perkiomen Valley head coach Rob Heist. “We’re a passing team. It doesn’t matter who we’re going up against, we’re gonna try and throw it. Tonight we were able to execute and find some holes in their defense.”
Perkiomen Valley led by as much as 38 points before Pennridge even lit up the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter.
On the night, Sturm completed 18 of his 24 attempts for a staggering 424 yards passing and five touchdowns. Jaworski hauled in nine receptions for 286 receiving yards and three TDs.
“It was a matter of matchups,” said Jaworski. “Coming in, we knew what we were up against. Pennridge has a really good defense, especially their linebackers.”
“Our offensive line did a great job up front,” said Sturm. “They protected me, gave me time and that allowed our receivers to get open down the field.”
Jaworski scored from 60, 50 and 26 yards out after Brendan Schimpf caught one across the middle and took it 10 yards for PV’s first touchdown at the start of the second quarter. Sean Owens (45 yards) reeled in a beautiful diving catch for a 37-yard strike from Sturm to give PV its final score of the night.
Defensively, PV held Pennridge to 252 total yards (106 in the first half).
Pennridge quarterback Jagger Hartshorn threw for 181 yards and three touchdowns — all three in the fourth quarter — and also racked up 45 rushing yards on 14 carries.
Anthony Kelly had six catches for 120 yards and a 36-yard touchdown. Ryan Cuthbert (15 receiving yards) and Nick Tarburton (20 yards) each hauled in touchdown receptions.
“We couldn’t establish anything offensively early on,” said Pennridge head coach Jeff Hollenbach. “We had to keep their (PV’s) offensive off the field if we wanted to get our offense going.
“Credit to them … their defensive gameplan was excellent. They made the stops, then turned around and put points on the board. Before we knew it, we were down big.”
Perkiomen Valley executed a perfect 21-point swing.
The Vikings took over at their own 40 with 2:12 left in the first half leading 10-0. On the first play, Sturm hit Jaworski for a 60-yard strike.
After forcing a three-and-out in :57 from Pennridge, PV took over at the Rams’ 48 with just over a minute on the clock. After losing two yards, Sturm hit Jaworski for a 50-yard strike giving PV a 24-0 lead going into the half.
Having deferred the opening kickoff, PV received the ball to start the second half. The Vikings marched it 78 yards, capped by Jaworski’s 26-yard touchdown reception to make it 31-0.
“We deferred the opening kickoff hoping we could have possession before the end of the half,” said Heist. “We wanted to go two-for-one. Get the ball before the half ended and score then open up the second half with a score. It wound up working out for us.”
Setting the Tone
Pennridge committed a false start penalty on the game’s opening play from scrimmage. Three plays later, the Rams faced 4th-and-26 with their punter standing in the middle of the end zone awaiting the snap.
Pror to that, linebacker Brian Fehr made two straight tackles for losses followed by Jon Rotonda’s stuff of running back Josh Pinkney on third and 25.
“Our defense set the tone right on that first drive,” said Heist. “Brian Fehr is a physical kid. He’s been doing a great job for us this season.”
Up In the Air
All eight touchdowns combined from either side came through the passing game. The two teams combined for just 87 rushing yards on 53 carries.
Just for Kicks
Perkiomen Valley’s senior placekicker Garrett Patla took to Twitter to announce his commitment to Cornell University on Thursday night.
“Extremely excited to be furthering my football career and education at Cornell #GoBigRed,” he tweeted.
A day after committing, Patla posted a huge day on the field for the Vikings. The lefty nailed a 40-yard field goal, hit all five of his extra point attempts and posted seven touchbacks in his seven kickoffs.
Prior to Friday night’s game, Patla — a Mercury-Area Second Team selection in 2015 — was a clean 9-for-9 on extra point tries and had nailed a 33-yard field goal against Frankford.