POTTSTOWN >> Neither offense set the field on fire in the first half. Twin Valley led in total yardage, 75-58, and 3-0 on the scoreboard.
A different Owen J. Roberts offense came out for the second half.
Adjustments were made and OJR turned up the throttle, cranking out 236 yards of total offense in the second half while its defense played splendidly throughout in a 13-6 home victory over the Raiders Friday night.
OJR got its offense going with 133 yards rushing in the second half and another 103 passing from junior quarterback Dawson Stuart. And all of those 103, on four second-half connections, went to junior receiver Hunter Hinrichs, including a touchdown.
You’ll notice a junior theme here, which bodes well for OJR next year as these extra regular-season games give a glimpse into potential. Junior running backs Hunter Scherfel and Ted Bradford combined for 98 yards on the ground, 70 in the second half.
“The adjustments at halftime helped, and we just executed better in the second half,” OJR coach Rich Kolka said. “And I can’t say enough about our defense.”
Twin Valley owned the ball for nearly the first 9 minutes of the game but got only a field goal. The Wildcat offense then put their defense in a big hole when a punt snap flew high for a 22-yard loss, giving the Raiders the ball at the OJR 8. But Twin Valley suffered a dropped pass in the end zone, then a sack by OJR junior Jake Puderbach, and a blocked field goal.
The Wildcats later in the second quarter twice drove to the red zone but came away empty. It happened again in the third quarter, but Twin Valley wasn’t going anywhere. A good running team, the Raiders were stymied all night, mustering just 39 yards rushing on 21 carries. OJR’s entire defense was swarming, and Puderbach, senior D-lineman Dan Hultz and sophomore Aidan Hayward led the charge.
“It feels good playing like this defensively – we have one of the best run defenses in the PAC,” Puderbach said.
“We had to stop the run and force them to pass more than they like,” Hultz said.
Sophomore QB Zach Gardner did a good job for Twin Valley, hitting 18-for-24 for 160 yards, but a lot of it was short stuff that the Wildcats contained.
OJR’s offense finally struck the end zone late in the third. Stuart, a strong runner, augmented the ground game with Bradford and converted a fourth down, then scored on a 2-yard keeper to make it 7-3 with 26.8 left in the third quarter.
On Twin Valley’s next possession, OJR junior Sean Praweckyj’s interception gave the Wildcats the ball on the Twin Valley 26, and they cashed it in, with the Stuart-to-Hinrichs connection doing the damage. First was a 9-yard completion, then a nice lofted pass and over-the-shoulder catch for a 25-yard score with 10:17 left in the fourth. It was 13-3 after a failed two-point run.
Hinrichs was just getting warmed up in the fourth quarter. After OJR’s defense again came through, limiting Twin Valley to a 38-yard field goal after fumbling near midfield, Hinrichs essentially iced the game with an impressive 55-yard reception. He took a short sideline toss from Stuart, wheeled inside and sped all the way to the Twin Valley 20. The Wildcats again had a red zone hiccup, turning the ball over on downs with 2:24 to go, but their defense was up to the task of keeping Twin Valley at bay in the final minutes.
“We decided at halftime we’d throw more underneath routes and pull them in on slants, then go deep some,” Hinrichs said.
“We made the adjustments,” Stuart said. “We had to see how their safeties and cornerbacks were playing. We were able to keep them off balance the second half. They started to blitz and that helped us, and we had great blocking from the whole offensive line.”