EXETER >> Before Friday’s game, Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker stressed the importance of strong play from his senior quarterback, TJ Pergine, in the Rams’ chances for success this season.
It’s safe to say Brubaker’s pleased with the immediate results.
Pergine came out on fire Friday night, throwing for three first-half touchdowns, while senior running back Justin DeFrancesco ran for 251 yards. When all was said and done, the Rams had a convincing 45-21 win over previously undefeated Exeter.
“He’s been playing at a high level-stats don’t always tell the story for (Pergine),” said Brubaker. “But tonight I felt we did an all-around tremendous job.”
“(Coach Brubaker) is the key to our success,” Pergine said. “Since Week 1 and even during the summer, he’s had us in the weight room, keeps us working hard, and he believes in us. Everything starts with Coach.”
Early on, the Rams wasted no time getting on the board with a 31-yard field goal from Taylor Smith. After a 20-yard TD run by Exeter’s Nick Sarangoulis (who ran for 182 yards on the night), Pergine took to the air, finding sophomore Ryan Engro for an 8-yard score that gave Spring-Ford a lead they would not relinquish.
Senior Tyler Edwards cranked up the highlight reel early in the second quarter with a one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone to extend the lead. After Justin DeFrancesco ran in from a yard out to make it 24-7 Rams, the young — but rapidly improving — Spring-Ford defense forced a quick Exeter three-and-out to give the offense the ball back with two minutes left before the half.
Pergine and company immediately went to work, as the quarterback broke a 46-yard run deep into Exeter territory. On first and goal, Pergine pump-faked a quick out and found a wide-open Colby Goldsmith for a 31-7 halftime lead.
The otherwise entertaining first half was marred by 15 total penalties — 10 on the home team from Exeter, who struggled to sustain drives. Multiple first-half possessions came to an abrupt halt in the red zone, with penalties the main culprit.
Aside from the standout performance on the ground from Sarangoulis, Exeter QB Brandon Unterkoefler added 99 yards on the ground.
After halftime, the Rams quickly put the game out of reach. On a third-and-13 from the Spring-Ford 7, DeFrancesco took a draw untouched 93 yards to the house to make it a 38-7 lead. He wasn’t done, however, adding an 87-yarder later in the quarter.
“I can’t take much credit — the holes I ran through were huge,” said DeFrancesco. “Happy to get the win, and the long runs, but the credit goes to the guys up front.”
In all the Rams compiled 524 yards of total offense before pulling the starters with four minutes left in the 3rd quarter, leading 45-7. Unterkoefler added two late scores for Exeter to tighten the final margin, but the Rams got on the bus back to Royersford with a 2-2 record — and a confident leader in Brubaker.
“We had a sour taste in our mouths from last week (a 28-21 setback against Wilson), and I told the kids to be angry about that, and use it as fuel to improve,” Brubaker said.
“I feel like we did just that tonight.”