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Feed Me More: Upper Perk avoids collapse, outlasts Phoenixville

RED HILL >> No fourth quarter letdown for Upper Perkiomen this week.

Zeke Hallman and Tyler Whary weren’t letting that happen.

Upper Perkiomen and Phoenixville combined for 980 yards of total offense — the bulk of that coming in the second half — as the Indians nearly saw a three touchdown lead evaporate in the second half before shutting the Phantoms down en route to a 47-35 victory on the team’s ‘Lace Up 4 Pediatric Cancer’ night at Indians Stadium.

Upper Perkiomen's Austin Tutolo drags a Phoenixville defender with him en route to a first down. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Upper Perkiomen’s Austin Tutolo drags a Phoenixville defender with him en route to a first down. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

“I was just thinking that we had to come out and give it 100 percent to get out with the ‘W,’” Whary said. “It’s a big relief to finally get one.”

“We said in the locker room that we weren’t going to let this happen again,” Hallman said. “After Boyertown, that was heartbreaking, Upper Moreland was even more heartbreaking. I said, ‘Guys, I promise you that this isn’t going to happen again. Follow us seniors. It’s going to happen.’ And it did.”

Hallman finished 11-for-14 with 179 yards and three touchdowns while the bruising junior back Whary ended up with 203 yards and two scores on 24 carries as the Indians held a 35-14 lead with eight minutes remaining in the third before withstanding a late Phoenixville barrage late. The win was a welcoming sight for the Indians, who had blown fourth quarter leads in two of their three losses this season. 

Upper Perkiomen's sideline celebrates after Josh Felbinger's recovery on a squib kick sealed the deal for the Indians in a 47-35 victory over Phoenixville Friday. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Upper Perkiomen’s sideline celebrates after Josh Felbinger’s recovery on a squib kick sealed the deal for the Indians in a 47-35 victory over Phoenixville Friday. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

“I need some heart medicine because these guys don’t make it easy,” Hontz quipped. “It was a great effort all the way around on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively we were doing OK but we would let up a big play and that just kept them in it. We needed to hammer the door down.”

Blame Phoenixville’s Matt Garcia and Nasir Green for Hontz’s need for medication this week.

Phoenixville's Nasir Green breaks away from the secondary after hauling in a pass from quarterback Troy Rossman. Green caught the slant pass and took it 83 yards for the score. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Phoenixville’s Nasir Green breaks away from the secondary after hauling in a pass from quarterback Troy Rossman. Green caught the slant pass and took it 83 yards for the score. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

Garcia finished with his second 230-plus rushing effort in as many games, finishing with 238 yards on 22 carries that included scores from 77 and 64 yards out (three touchdowns total). Green turned slant patterns into big touchdowns twice, his first going for 83 yards to make it 21-14 UP in the second, his second a 66-yarder that made it 41-35 with nine minutes remaining in the fourth.

That was as close as the Phantoms got however. An unfortunate illegal substitution penalty did the most damage as it moved UP from a fourth-and-six to a fourth-and-one with 5:32 left. Hallman picked up the first down on the short-yardage situation before Austin Tutolo plunged into the end zone from one yard nearly three minutes later to make it 47-35.

A squib kick that ricocheted off a Phoenixville returner and into the awaiting arms of Upper Perk’s Josh Felbinger put the nail in it.

“There’s no quit in this team,” Phoenixville head coach Evan Breisblatt said. “We got it rolling and I thought that we outplayed them in the second half for the most part. Unfortunately they outplayed us a little bit more in the first half. Crucial mistake we made there in the fourth quarter, and we just couldn’t get it back, but it wasn’t one play that decided the game.”

Phoenixville's Matt Garcia breaks through the Upper Perkiomen secondary en route to a 64-yard touchdown run during the first quarter. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Phoenixville’s Matt Garcia breaks through the Upper Perkiomen secondary en route to a 64-yard touchdown run during the first quarter. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

Stats, Stats, Stats

Quarterback Troy Rossman finished 15-for-22 with 277 yards and two touchdowns, both to Green. … Phoenixville registered 512 yards of total offense to Upper Perk’s 468. Phoenixville’s Bob Strunk and Upper Perk’s Ryan Kendra each had interceptions. Kendra finished with a team high 72 yards receiving on two receptions. Tyler Keyser added 62 yards receiving on three receptions with a score. 

All for Dylan

Hallman made sure to adorn his white wristbands with No. 50 in magic marker. The reason? For starting linebacker Dylan Reinford who is lost for the season with a torn ACL.

“I grew up with that kid, I dreamed of walking out with that kid on senior night for years,” Hallman said. “We were all crying in the pregame because we found out this week that he won’t be playing anymore. I gave a pregame speech and said ‘this kid is never going to touch an Upper Perk field again and play football. We need to do this for him.’ That kid never took a play off his entire life, and he didn’t know that his last snap was going to be against Upper Moreland. I said, ‘Nobody better take a play off because 50 would do anything to get one last snap.’

Whary made his presence felt on the first play of the game, rocking Garcia with a hard hit. His motivation? Reinford.

“I knew I had to step up big because he’s a great middle linebacker. I just wanted to do everything I could because I knew he’s never going to be back on this field. I did this all for him.

Cancer Survivors

The “Lace Up 4 Pediatric Cancer” game took on a special moment as Upper Perkiomen has two cancer survivors on their squad.

Rachael Behm and Kyleigh Danasko were honored during the halftime ceremony for overcoming their battle with the disease.

Behm was diagnosed when she was 13 with Non-Hodgkin’s b-cell lymphoma. She had to go through six months of treatment and will celebrate her two years of having her cancer in remission on December 20.

Danasko was three-years-old when she was diagnosed with Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans. While in surgery in 2006, doctors found the cancer starting to wrap around her stomach wall and intestines. She now remains cancer free.

Bat Crazy

The third quarter had its share of scoring … and it’s share of wackiness.

First, a drone hovering over the field halted play. The drone flew away but a bat made its home on the 30-yard line. After some coercion from referees to leave the field, the bat left some magic behind as Garcia rushed for his 77-yard touchdown on the next play to make it 35-21.

The magic was shortlived however. Upper Perkiomen freshman Tyrese Reid’s 84-yard kickoff return made it 41-21 on the next play.

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