GRATERFORD >> Get out the pens, Pennsylvania state record keepers: there’s a new record holder.
Perkiomen Valley senior quarterback Stephen Sturm continued his torrid stretch in the district playoffs, throwing for 331 yards and four touchdowns to eclipse the record for most career passing yards by a Class 4A-6A player in Friday night’s 44-21 victory over visiting Downingtown East in the District 1 Class 6A quarterfinals Friday night.
Sturm’s 8,261 career yards moves him ahead of Downingtown East’s Pat Devlin, who had a sensational career from 2002-2005, throwing for 8,162 yards. Sturm, who has thrown for 3,174 yards and 40 touchdowns his senior season, also broke his own PAC record for most single-season passing yards, bettering his own mark of 3,087 set last season.
When learning of his records, Sturm deflected the accolades right back to his teammates.
“I have to give credit to everyone around me,” Sturm said. “We have so much chemistry, we’ve been doing this for three years, it’s just second nature to us. I know where they’ll be and they know where I’m going to put it. Right now, we’re just having fun. I couldn’t do it without them,” Perkiomen Valley (5-0 PAC, 12-0 overall) advances to the district semifinals for the second time in four seasons. The Vikings will host No. 10 Garnet Valley, which ousted undefeated Neshaminy 42-14, Friday night at 7 p.m.
“It’s amazing to get into the district semifinals and be able to play in front of our home fans,” Sturm said. “It’s going to be another great game. Garnet Valley is a hell of a team that did a number on Neshaminy. I expect a great game.”
“Getting to the semifinals is nice, but our goal isn’t completed yet,” added senior wide receiver Justin Jaworski. “We want to win the championship.”
That goal is becoming more and more of a reality the way the Vikings have been playing the past two weeks.
Jaworski and Sean Owens took advantage of a pass-heavy Vikings’ attack as they both compiled 100-plus yard games. Jaworski finished with 11 receptions for 146 yards and a score while Sean Owens added 137 yards on six receptions that included a sensational catch where the senior hauled in a pass from Sturm on a slant pattern with his fingertips before jetting to the end zone for a 32-yard score to make it 30-14 right after the half. Owens finished with two touchdowns.
“We saw it on film that they liked to blitz so many people,” Jaworski said. “We got straight man coverage. All week we knew that we had to win our one-on-one battles. If we didn’t win those, we’d probably lose. We did what he had to do today and made sure we got separation.”
Dan Liaudaitis finished with 150 yards rushing on 31 carries for a Downingtown East (5-1, 9-3) squad that has fallen in the district quarterfinals in the past two seasons. He, along with Jeremy Jennings (12 carries for 64 yards and a score) proved to be a nightmare for the Vikings’ defense in the second quarter as Jennings capped off a 11-play, 80-yard drive with a 6-yard run up the gut to tie the game at 14 midway through. That was as close as the Cougars got.
Garrett Patla swung momentum right back in the Vikings’ favor as he booted a career-best, 49-yard field goal to make it 17-14 before the offense came back on its next drive, Jaworski’s 31-yard haul on a post pattern giving the team a 24-14 lead one minute before the break.
Owens’ aforementioned touchdown extended the lead to 30-14 before he added his second score, gaining a step on an East defensive back as he hauled in a perfectly placed pass by Sturm near the corner of the end zone to make it 37-14.
Liaudaitis brought East back into the game midway through the fourth with a 19-yard gash up the middle and an interception after a failed onside kick had given the Cougars the ball back with five minutes remaining. However, a Bryce Lauletta (20-for-34 for 184 yards) pass was intercepted by PV senior linebacker Ryan McCourt, who then raced 40 yards to put the capper on the Vikings’ victory.
“I thought we dominated the line of scrimmage but they made a lot of good passes and made a lot of good catches,” Downingtown East head coach Michael Matta said. “Not only do they have a great quarterback but they have a handful of really good receivers. We’re not a team that’s going to outscore you. That’s a problem. We had them in third in long a couple times but we just couldn’t get them off the field.”
NOTES >> Ethan Harris finished with six receptions for 71 yards that included a leaping touchdown grab in the first quarter.
Good Job D
Downingtown East pressured Sturm all game and finished with five sacks in the loss. However, the defensive stand of the game came from the Vikings’ D on the game’s third possession. After East forced a strip sack of Sturm and recovered at the PV 24, the Viking defense kept East off the board, forcing the Cougars to turn the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass on fourth and five.
Move those chains
Both teams fared well on third down. Downingtown East finished 8-for-17 while PV finished 8-for-14, two of those conversions on third and 10 or more.