PHOENIXVILLE >> Tyler Whary and Tyrese Reid combined for 306 rushing yards on Friday night, as Upper Perkiomen defeated Phoenixville, 44-20, in both team’s Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division opener at Phoenixville’s Washington Field.
Phoenixville jumped out to an early lead, taking the opening drive of the game 81 yards for 6 points, but Upper Perk was quick to respond, scoring touchdowns on each of their first two drives and grabbing a 15-9 lead that it never relinquished.
The turning point in the game came early as Phoenixville (0-1, 0-5) started a drive at their own 15-yard line, but lost yards on first and second down before the Indians picked up a safety on third down by sacking Connor Patania.
“In all actuality, we had one guy blitz who wasn’t supposed to on the safety, but it worked,” Upper Perkiomen coach Tom Hontz said.
Upper Perk (1-0, 3-2) was coming off a pair of tough losses to Upper Moreland and a 56-0 drubbing at the hands of Cocalico last week.
“Our captains stepped up this week and said ‘we need to get some energy in practice this week,’ and I thought we had a good, crisp week of practice.” Hontz said.
“Coming off that tough loss, we were definitely motivated,” Whary added. “This was our first conference game and everyone was fired up. Us captains just got together and said, ‘We need to get these boys rallied up.’”
The combination of Whary and Reid ran the ball 25 times and added 5 touchdowns, while each averaged over 10 yards per carry for the game.
“It’s nice being able to rotate these guys because (Whary) is a key component for our defense,” Hontz said. “So if we can get him a rest, that’s huge.”
Upper Perkiomen did a good job of spreading the ball around as four different Indians received multiple carries and quarterback Tyler Keyser connected with five different wide receivers.
“We just want to pound the rock,” Whary said. “It’s always good to get a bit of a rest, but then I want to get back out there as strong as I can be.”
In a game that was fought in the trenches, the Phantoms and the Indians racked up a total of 553 rushing yards between the two teams. Leading the way for the Phantoms was Travis Panella, who finished with 150 yards on 26 carries.
However, the Phantoms also found success through the air, as Patania completed 18 of his 25 passes for 134 yards.
“He’s a huge competitor,” Phoenixville coach Evan Breisblatt said. “Coming off his rough performance last week, we dialed things a bit back for him and called some shorter passes, but he did a great job of directing our offense for the entire game.”
Upper Perkiomen’s defense surrendered 340 yards of offense, but the Indians were able to stand strong in the red zone, holding the Phantoms to a pair of field goals from inside the 5-yard-line.
“Once the field got a little shorter for them, we were able to step up and make some plays,” Hontz said. “They ran a very balanced attack tonight and we needed to adjust make sure we stopped them.”
Phoenixville’s defense allowed a touchdown on six of Upper Perk’s eight offensive drives, but coach Breisblatt believes there are still reasons to be optimistic looking forward for the Phantoms.
“We’ve run into a rough stretch of good teams to start the year, but I see us improving every week,” he said. “Defensively, I think we have guys in the right spots, but I’ve just never seen a pair of running backs as talented as the guys they have over there.”