ROYERSFORD >> Spring-Ford put up 40 points against District 3 power Wilson last week and it wasn’t enough.
That was tough.
But so were the Rams Friday against previously unbeaten Exeter. They amassed 436 yards of total offense, made a bevy of big plays, and were stifling defensively, holding the Eagles to nearly 200 yards below their per-game rushing average. The result was a resounding, rebounding 38-6 victory at Coach McNelly Stadium.
Spring-Ford (3-1), which opens PAC play with Norristown next Friday, got several prolific individual performances. Junior quarterback TJ Pergine threw for 240 yards – 120 in each half – on 12-for-22 passing and two touchdowns. Stone Scarcelle caught 7 passes for 163 yards and had two plus-40 plays, one of them a 49-yard score. Matt Gibson rushed for 103 yards on 10 carries, including bursts of 31 and 50, and Dan Cassidy had an 80-yard interception return for a TD and a 25-yard scoring reception.
“We talked about it all week, coming back after the loss at Wilson,” Cassidy said. “We wanted to come back strong and play hard.”
“No matter what, we have to take it one game at a time,” Gibson said. “We had to forget what happened last week (a double-overtime loss) and focused on the week ahead of us.”
Exeter has an excellent running back in junior Nick Sarangoulis and a fine running quarterback in Brandon Unterkoefler. They had combined for 449 yards on the ground in the first two games, and the Eagles had averaged 325. But against the Rams the going was tough. Stringing out pitch plays and swarming the inside, the Rams held the Eagles to 136 rushing yards on 37 carries, less than 4 per attempt. Sarangoulis had 73 yards on 21 carries and Unterkoefler 45 on 11.
Through the air, Unterkoefler found it just as difficult, as Spring-Ford played excellent tight coverage and held him to a 6-of-19 night. Tight end Gabe Schappell, big and talented, did make three catches for 68 yards including a 19-yard beauty late in the game that set up the Eagles’ lone TD.
After both teams played stout defense and traded punts in the early going, Spring-Ford started to spring loose late in the first quarter. They went 80 yards in just three plays, with Gibson going left for 31 and Pergine finding Scarcelle on a deep route for the 49-yard score with 32.9 seconds left in the first quarter. Scarcelle broke a tackle and was gone to the end zone.
Following a drive that led to a field goal, Spring-Ford mounted more momentum on another 80-yard surge that took just 2:06. Gibson’s 50-yard romp set up his 5-yard TD and it was 17-0 with 2:08 left in the half.
“They kept blitzing off the edges so I had to be very patient,” Gibson said. “Our line was doing a very good job and the holes opened up.”
The game opened up for Spring-Ford further when, on the next Exeter possession, Cassidy read a throw perfectly, made the interception and blasted 80 yards down the left side with a nice convoy, with 31 seconds before halftime – 24-zip.
It was extra unfortunate for Exeter; the Eagles had finally moved the ball fairly well and gotten into the red zone.
“A 14-point swing,” lamented Exeter coach Matt Bauer. “You’ve got to tip your hat to Spring-Ford. Their kids made a lot of plays. We just didn’t execute.”
“The line pressured the quarterback and got him to scramble, so he was throwing across his body,” Cassidy said. “And I was able to get in position to pick it off. And the linemen who pressured him gave me some nice blocks.”
Defensively, Spring-Ford was led by Tanner Romano, Toby Poet, Lee Albert, Ryan Yanulevich and a host of others. On both sides of the ball, the Rams look ready to attack the PAC.
“We’re excited to get back in the conference and play some familiar teams,” Gibson said.
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