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Garnet Valley’s 426 rushing yards, eight sacks lift Jags to district final

GRATERFORD >> Garnet Valley will be listed as an underdog next Friday night when the Jaguars vie for a district title.

After Friday night’s performance against Perkiomen Valley, however, maybe that should be reconsidered.

It was hard to find any fault in Garnet Valley’s performance as the Jaguars pounded No. 3 Perkiomen Valley on both sides of the ball en route to a 44-27 victory over the Vikings in the District 1 Class 6A semifinals at Thomas J. Keenan Stadium. 

No. 10 Garnet Valley, making its first appearance in the district semifinals since 2011, will travel to No. 1 North Penn (42-25 winners over Coatesville) next Friday night at Crawford Stadium with the district title on the line.

Garnet Valley's Joe Thomas (73) celebrates with Esso Adigwe (74) after the Jaguars' 44-27 victory over Perkiomen Valley. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Garnet Valley’s Joe Thomas (73) celebrates with Esso Adigwe (74) after the Jaguars’ 44-27 victory over Perkiomen Valley. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

“It’s amazing,” fullback Matt Lassik said. “This is historic for Garnet Valley and we’re so happy to be the ones to accomplish this.”

Lassik was one of the last Jaguar players to parade down the fence line after Friday’s win, his hugs with fans and family similar to what he did four times during the course of the game. The junior was a thorn in PV’s side all game, rushing for a game-best 244 yards on 35 carries with four touchdowns. Garnet Valley as a team rushed for 426 yards in the victory — the most Perkiomen Valley has given up all season.

“Our offensive line and our quarterback know what we need to do when we’re out on the field,” Lassik said. “We don’t do anything special, we just do our job. We play Garnet Valley football.”

The defense lived up to its part as well finishing with eight sacks in a dominating effort. Senior Chad Hrivnak registered a team-best 2.5 sacks with Shane Donegan adding 1.5 of his own. Donegan capped his day with a game-sealing interception in the fourth quarter.

“No one gave us a chance,” Donegan said. “We knew what he had to do. They’re a good team and we had to take care of business. We stepped up, had a good rush and good coverage. We handled them well.”

Garnet Valley's Michael Molique tips a pass back to himself before hauling it in for a 30-yard gain. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Garnet Valley’s Jon Ricci tips a pass back to himself before hauling it in for a 30-yard gain. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

The loss is the first for Perkiomen Valley (12-1 overall) this season. Senior quarterback Stephen Sturm tied Manheim Township’s Pat Bostick’s Pennsylvania state record for most touchdowns in a career as he tossed two scores to give him 94 in his illustrious career. He finished the game 24-of-39 for 264 yards while Brendan Schimpf and David Williams added 92 and 90 receiving yards, respectively.

The constant pressure on Sturm and three turnovers, however, were too much to overcome.

“Over time it’ll kick in about how special this group of guys were,” Sturm said. “Right now, it’s tough. They made plays and capitalized on our mistakes. That was a real good football team that knew what they were doing, had good coverage and had a good rush. That was a well coached football team.”

Following a blocked field goal on the game’s first possession, Garnet Valley took a 7-0 lead on its first drive of the game, Lassik capping off a 9-play, 74-yard drive with a 7-yard plunge up the gut. That was quickly matched by PV, which came back to tie it as Sturm hit Ryan Sell for 20 yards on a perfectly placed pass.

The Vikings regained control – courtesy a GV fumble – as Justin Jaworski and Sturm hooked up on a quarterback throwback on fourth down. Sturm threw a swing to Jaworski who bought some time before lofting a jump ball to Sturm, who hauled it in for the 15-yard score to make it 14-7.

Following a Jacob Buttermore(130 yards rushing on nine attempts with two scored)  touchdown that gave GV a 21-14 lead, PV took the ball to the GV 2 but a fumbled exchange was recovered by GV.

The Jaguars never looked back.

Garnet Valley's Matt Lassik runs through a tackler during the second half. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Garnet Valley’s Matt Lassik runs through a tackler during the second half. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

Lassik rushed up the gut for a 36-yard touchdown to open up the third quarter before Buttermore converted a 26-yard field goal to make it 31-14.

Perkiomen Valley then pulled out its bag of tricks as Jaworski connected with Schimpf on a fake punt for a 55-yard score to make it 31-21 and forced a fumble on the next play from scrimmage but three straight sacks knocked PV out of field goal range. GV took advantage, as Buttermore scored from eight yards out on a pitch to make it 38-21 before Lassik capped it off with his fourth touchdown one play after Donegan’s aforementioned interception.

NOTES >> Sturm capped his career with a state record (large school classification) of 8,554 yards. His 3,438 passing yards and 42 touchdowns this season were also PAC records. … Garnet Valley didn’t punt all game and were 6-for-10 on third downs. … Garnet Valley had 27 first downs to PV’s 17. … PV failed to make its first district final appearance, stopped in the semifinals for the second time in four years. The Vikings fell to North Penn in the 2013 semifinals.

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