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Owen J. Roberts hits the ground running against Boyertown

BUCKTOWN >> Last weekend, Rich Kolka vowed to find the answer for an Owen J. Roberts running game that was noticeably obscure against Norristown.

He found it Friday, in Hunter Scherfel. And the sophomore running back’s hard-running style was an effective response in the Wildcats’ 29-0 victory over Boyertown.

Scherfel pounded and ground his way to 121 yards on 26 carries, highlighted by a pair of 13-yard touchdown runs in the second quarter. That performance stood in stark contrast to his 11-for-18 a week ago, and even Roberts’ 33-yard production as a team.

“Our defense was real good, and it gave momentum to the offense,” Scherfel said. “That helped out with our momentum.”

Scherfel’s running was complemented by that of classmate Sean Praweckyj, who sustained OJR’s momentum in the second half with 55 ground yards and two touchdown runs. Quarterback Dawson Stuart chipped in with another 15 yards on seven runs, and Ted Bradford added another 12 on three totes.

“Small corrections,” was the solution Kolka offered for his team’s second victory in three PAC Liberty Division outings (4-3 overall). “We always say we want to run first and throw second.”

The Owen J. defense did a yeoman’s job at its end, limiting Boyertown (1-2, 2-5) to a mere 79 yards total offense. It also got in the scoring act with a safety at the 6:52 mark of the second quarter, Nick Duliakas helping tackle Boyertown quarterback Jerry Kapp in his end zone after the Bears were put into a third-and-27 situation at their three-yard line.

“It was intensity,” Kolka said. “We played with attitude. We rattled off 16 points in the second quarter and never allowed them to get back in the game.”

Duliakas was again a force in the Owen J. defense, scoring two other sacks of Kapp. The Bear senior was dropped for negative yardage four times, two for double-digit yards — one of them by Aidan Hayward.

“He goes out on every play at 100 percent,” Kolka said of Duliakas. “He’s a great example for our younger players.”

Also to the OJR defense’s credit was a key stop on Boyertown’s first possession of the second half. A 59-yard pass play from Kapp to Marcus Thomas put the Bears on the Wildcats’ 24, but the visitors gained only three more yards on four plays to turn the ball over on downs.

But in Kolka’s mind, the safety loomed very big on his team’s intensity meter.

“Momentum was off the charts,” he said. “It was a great momentum charger.”

On the other side, head coach George Parkinson was left with the challenge of regrouping his team for next week’s game with high-powered Spring-Ford.

“It’s a disappointing loss,” he said. “Our offense didn’t get going. Nick (Duliakas) did a great job against us.”

Kapp ended up Boyertown’s rushing leader, and he got 71 yards on 4-for-12 passing — the bulk of that the big-strike throw to Thomas. On defense, he intercepted a pass by Stuart (5-for-6, 37 yards) in the first quarter.

But the effort was overshadowed by Duliakas’ block of a second-quarter punt that put OJR in control on its 13, from where Scherfel scored his second TD at the 8:38 mark; and Roberts’ recovery of a punt inside the game’s four-minute mark that deprived the Bears of one final possession.

“We had a lot of mishaps,” Parkinson said. “Penalties, the blocked punt, turnovers. We preach discipline, and we struggled with that.”

Scherfel’s first 13-yard TD came at 10:29 in the second quarter. Praweckyj made it a 22-point game when he roared up the middle with 2:14 left in the third quarter, and again ran out of the quarterback slot for a nine-yarder with 7:29 left in the game.

“Tonight was as complete a game as I’ve seen us play,” Kolka said. “It was a good effort. I was impressed with how it went.”

NOTES >> Kolka on Praweckyj, who had 106 receiving yards and two touchdowns against Norristown: “He’s an explosive athlete … nice to have.” … Brandon McGough distinguished himself in the Boyertown defense by recovering a fumble at his 12 as Roberts was driving at the end of the second quarter. … Hunter Hinrichs was the leader of OJR’s receiving corps, with three catches for 23 yards. … Owen J. celebrated its Homecoming this weekend. Mary Grace Fedoris was crowned Queen during the halftime ceremonies.

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