ROBESONIA >> Whatever is going on with the Exeter Eagles, don’t look for them to change a thing anytime soon.
Exeter rolled up 585 total yards Friday night in scoring eight touchdowns to defeat the homestanding Conrad Weiser Scouts 55-33 in a key Berks League Section 1 clash.
The win solidifies Exeter’s chances at a postseason District 3 5A berth with the playoffs looming three weeks in the distance. Locally, section leaders Governor Mifflin would have to get tripped up in the regular season’s final two weeks for Exeter to claim a piece of the top spot in Berks 1.
It was not a pretty engagement. The teams combined for 26 penalties worth 248 yards (19 to the Eagles) in a plodding Friday Night Lights slog that took three hours and six minutes to complete.
But Exeter continued to employ its up-tempo attack against the Scouts, an approach that has seemed to click all the moving offensive parts into place. Those changes — necessitated by versatile All-Berks running back Nick Sarangoulis’s clavicle injury — have sparked to Eagles (5-3, 3-1 Berks 1) to 169 points scored in three weeks in successive wins over Muhlenberg, Fleetwood and now Weiser (4-4, 2-2).
Quarterback Brandon Unterkoefler threw for 151 yards on 9 of 17 passing and two touchdowns. He provided a dual-threat presence by adding 177 rushing yards on 19 carries and a fourth score — something that was kept in restraint three weeks ago when Bauer first rolled out the new-look attack in a 38-17 romp over Muhlenberg.
Gage Moran, the new feature back, rushed for 193 yards on 27 totes and found the end zone four times.
Sophomore Alex Javier played the game of his young career thus far with a fumble recovery for touchdown, an interception, a 23-yard option toss for a score to Moran and a 39-yard touchdown reception on the game’s third snap.
It was a dazzling display that has the Eagles suddenly looking quite dangerous, something, frankly, that could not be said a month ago.
“It’s really starting to come together,” Exeter head coach Matt Bauer said. “The kids are really stepping up. A lot of people want the ball right now and Brandon is making really good decisions. You keep building off of this thing, ya know, I’m cautiously optimistic.
“They’re definitely exceeding my expectations. I challenged them to step up and I’m really glad to see that they have.”
Bauer’s Eagles dumped 35 first-half points on the Scouts, including two touchdowns in the final 1:23 of play that turned a competitive contest into a blowout at 35-3.
The second of those two scores was set up by a Javier interception of Weiser quarterback Connor McFadden near midfield with 51 seconds left until half. The Eagles went 47 yards in four quick plays, culminating in Unterkoefler finding tight end Matt Feeney for a 5-yard scoring strike with 19 seconds showing on the first half clock.
Weiser did not roll over, however. The Scouts — who started the night with junior Alex MacKenzie under center, inserted senior Connor McFadden in at quarterback in an alternating pattern for a few series until turning the car keys over full-time after the break. MacKenzie had been ineffective, going 1 of 6 for 34 yards.
McFadden did throw that pick late in the half, but also sparked Weiser’s attack in the second half by generaling the Scouts to four touchdown drives during a wide-open second half. He finished his evening 10 of 22 for 152 yards and one touchdown toss, a 29-yarder to Josh Taatjes. Taatjes had a 6-yard rushing score earlier in the contest — a jaunt from six out for Weiser’s first touchdown — and 4-yarder on the final play of the third quarter.
Placekicker Matt Noll drilled field goals of 39 and 35 yards. The 39-yarder — for Weiser’s only points of the opening 24 minutes — was a season-best.
The hole the Scouts dug themselves, however, proved too deep to navigate. Weiser got it as close as 49-33 when Chris Sterious returned a bad snap out of the shotgun for a 5-yard loose ball return for a defensive score in the fourth quarter, but Moran’s third rushing touchdown of the night, from 14 yards out, on the ensuing possession nullified it.
If there is one potential fly in the ointment toward Exeter making a playoff push, it is the penalties. The Eagles were flagged 19 times, including five personal foul calls and several holds. That is something Bauer knows needs to be cleaned up as the calendar lurches toward November.
“Obviously, eliminate them,” Bauer replied when asked about the volume of yellow laundry dropped on Friday night. “We need to play some smarter football.”
Exeter 55, Conrad Weiser 33
Exeter – 14 21 7 13 — 55
Conrad Weiser – 3 0 16 14 — 33
E – Alex Javier 39 pass from Brandon Unterkoefler (Josh Cupitt kick), 10:32
CW – Matt Noll 39 FG, 7:26
E – Javier 13 fumble return (Cupitt kick), 3:29
E – Gage Moran 23 pass from Javier, 5:18
E – Moran 12 run, 1:23
E – Matt Feeney 5 pass from Unterkoefler (Cupitt kick), :19
CW – Noll 35 FG, 10:22
CW – Josh Taatjes 6 run (pass failed), 5:56
E – Moran 10 run (Cupitt kick), 1:40
CW – Taatjes 4 run (Noll kick), 0:00
E – Moran 20 run (Cupitt kick), 10:16
CW – Taatjes 29 pass from Connor McFadden (Noll kick), 7:40
CW – Chris Sterious 5 fumble return (Noll kick), 7:27
E – Moran 14 run (kick blocked), 3:41
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