By Bill Rudick
EAST WHITELAND—Great Valley’s offense has been a difficult puzzle to solve for much of the season, but lately the Patriots have been beset with injuries, and seemingly had as many starting linemen in the trainer’s room as on the field when a hungry Oxford team came with hopes of spoiling the Patriot Homecoming festivities.
Fortunately for Great Valley, when one guy goes down, others step up. While the Hornets kept the Patriots star receiver, Ryan Hubley, out of the endzone, others picked up the slack and Great Valley posted a pair of unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter to open up a tight game for a 31-21 victory.
“We’re so banged up on the lines right now, with four starters gone for the season,” said Patriots’ coach Dan Ellis. “But these guys just kept fighting and fighting and fighting. Mike Means is doing a great job over there with Oxford. I know that no matter what their record is, it’s a much better football team than a year ago. But this team kept fighting and made the plays they needed to make when they needed to make them.”
After forcing the Hornets to punt on their first possession of the game, the Patriots took over on its own nine, and steadily marched down the field, finishing the five minute scoring drive with a 26-yard run by Mark DeRobertis, who finished the day with 54 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 12 carries. The running back also completed a crucial pass for 18 yards on a third and long to keep a Patriots drive alive.
“It’s amazing how good a job the line did today, especially with all the injuries we have,” said DeRobertis. “So many of the younger guys stepped up and played great. We knew we just needed to play the kind of game we can play, and we were going to get back on the winning side of things.”
Oxford answered right back, much as it would all day. Brandon Holz put the Hornets in great field position on the ensuing kick-off, returning it 68 yards to the Great Valley 25. Two plays later, Holz ran it in from 14 yards out to cut the lead to a point. But the Patriots blocked the PAT—one of two blocked kicks on the day for Great Valley.
Holz had a monster day in the loss, rumbling for 146 yards and three scores on just seven carries.
“Brandon is a real player,” said Means. “He’s just a junior and he gets better and better every week, making some big plays for u
s lately. He’s really coming into his own the past couple weeks.”
With the Patriots clinging to a 24-21 lead early in the fourth, Great Valley caught the first big break in the game when they recovered a fumble at the Oxford 25 yard line. Moments later, quarterback Robert Geiss connected with Brednan O’Donnell for a one-yard TD pass and a ten-point Patriot lead that would hold up as the final.
“All day long, we all just supported each other so well,” said Patriots lineman Brad Allan. “We all knew that fumble meant the game. This was just a great win. And it was a great game for all the people here for homecoming.”
Oxford still searches for its first win in the Ches-Mont, despite taking just about everyone down to the wire.
“All we can control now is the next two weeks,” said Means. “We just have to believe in ourselves late in games. We have to find a way to win the close ones, like teams have been doing to us. We’ve got two more weeks. Hopefully we can end on a high note.”