GRATERFORD >> As the rest of the Perkiomen Valley team filed out of Thomas J. Keenan Stadium, Garrett Patla stayed back.
He had to put his kicking net away.
“It’s just the life of the kicker, I suppose,” the senior kicker joked.
The senior Cornell-commit had the last laugh Friday as the kicker nailed a 33-yarder with seven seconds left to send Perkiomen Valley to a 27-24 victory over The Haverford School on Friday night.
“Props to the team, they got me in range,” Patla said. “I had a job to do and I just had to follow through with it. I’m super excited to say the least.”
“The kid’s been huge for us for four games now,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Rob Heist said. “He’s been a phenomenal football player. We put him in a pressure situation. He was ice cold and he delivered.”
The loss snapped The Haverford School’s 21-game winning streak. The Fords battled back in a hectic final seven minutes, tying the score at 17 after a 99-interception return by Nate Whitaker and then again at 24 four minutes later with a Tommy Toal one-yard QB sneak.
Toal finished 11-for-19 for 144 yards and a score while running back Mallik Twyman rumbled his way for 106 yards on 17 attempts.
“I really like our heart and our fight,” Haverford School head coach Michael Murphy said. “What I didn’t like was that we didn’t play well enough to beat a good football team like that. All the credit to them, they didn’t allow us to do it, but I felt like — and that’s on me — we were sloppy in our substitution, we were sloppy in our execution and you can’t beat a team like that playing that way.”
PV senior QB Stephen Sturm finished 26-for-39 for 292 yards as the Vikings (4-0 overall) completed their non-league schedule unscathed.
The win, however, came at a price as the Vikings lost PAC all-time leading receiver Justin Jaworski early in the fourth quarter as he landed awkwardly after colliding into two Fords safeties on a 29-yard reception that brought the ball to the Haverford 1-yard line. Jaworski was being evaluated for a knee injury and will have an MRI in the coming days to determine the severity.
With Jaworski on the sideline, the Fords added salt to the wound, Whitaker’s aforementioned 99-yard interception return and two-point conversion tying the game at 17 and effectively taking the wind out of PV’s sails.
That is until Matt Ford-Bey stepped up on the ensuing kickoff, taking the kick 92 yards up the middle for a momentous score that gave the Vikings a 24-17 lead and a little bit of life.
“That was huge,” Heist said. “Justin going down, you felt the collective hearts sink out of our whole crowd, out of our whole team and out of our whole staff. He’s a three-year starter for us. He’s a kid that is loved by all of our players. To see him in agony on the ground was just heart wrenching.”
“For Matthew to return that kickoff and just pick the spirits back up and get the stadium back on our side, it was invaluable for us.”
“He called it,” wide receiver Remy Sell said. “He said ‘if it’s kicked to me I’m going.’ He just went.”
The kickoff return commenced a hectic finish.
The Fords came back on the next drive, Toal orchestrating a beautiful 10-play, 55-yard drive that culminated with his 1-yard plunge to even the score at 24.
They just left too much time.
With 3:13 remaining, Sturm and company began to drive down the field methodically. Sean Owens (four receptions, 68 yards) hauled in a 20-yard pass on a third and 16 before Sell’s 18-yard reception brought the ball to the Haverford 37 with 1:14 left. Brendan Schimpf (64 yards, 10 carries) then provided his best run of the game two plays later, finding the edge for a 20-yard gain that put the ball in plenty of range for Patla, who took care of the rest.
“I loved being used,” Patla said. “Kicking extra points just doesn’t do it for me. I want to be a threat. Today, obviously, I was a threat.”
Sell finished with a season-best 49 yards receiving with five receptions. David Williams finished with 44 yards on 10 carries and 48 yards receiving on six receptions, his six-yard touchdown making it 14-9 early in the third.
“I’m just buying my time,” Sell said. “Jaws (Jaworski) is the all-time leading receiver, he’s a great guy. He went down but we had people that had to step in and replace him. When my number was called I was just trying not to screw up too much.”
NOTES >> Alec Jackson registered a sack in the win … Anthony Reginelli and Peter Solomon had sacks for the Fords.