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Upper Moreland dominates 3rd quarter, rolls Sun Valley in District 1-5A 1st round

UPPER MORELAND >> Upper Moreland felt like the game should have been over at halftime.

Holding penalties had wiped a pair of Golden Bears touchdowns off the board in the first half and as a result, the No. 2 seed only led No. 15 Sun Valley by two scores at the break of their District I 5A first-round football playoff game. The Bears felt like the game should have been over, so they decided to go out in the third quarter and actually end it.

Upper Moreland played its most dominant third quarter of the season, scoring four times and shutting out the Vanguards as they rolled to a 57-30 win Friday night.

“We wanted to come out here and put these guys away and that’s exactly what we did,” Upper Moreland running back Caleb Mead said. “It was all just mental stuff. We came together and did what we normally do and put teams away at the start of the half and come out with energy.”

Mead ran for 129 yards and two scores and caught a third touchdown to lead Upper Moreland while the other half of the Bears’ running back monster, Sterlen Barr, ran for 94 yards with a score. Fullback Billy McKenna had two rushing touchdowns and Cole Kitchen had a receiving touchdown from Brendan Olexa, who finished 12-of-17 for 146 yards and two scores.

The Bears were pretty good defensively too, with Barr picking off a pass and Bryan Mowrey having a monster game. Mowrey forced one fumble, recovering it and another Vanguards fumble, returning the second one 16 yards for a score and for good measure, had a sack.

UM coach Adam Beach had a simple message for his guys at half. He felt the Bears were doing more to stop themselves than anything the Vanguards were doing and if they could get past that, the game was theirs.

“We went into halftime, coach Beach came in and said we were doing well but we could be doing better,” UM senior lineman Brett Broderick said. “We were the better team tonight and in the third quarter, we’re a second half team, we just took over in that third quarter.”

Olexa had two great touchdown passes negated by holds in the first half, the first a throw to Brett Brossman and the second a Hail Mary to Barr as time expired in the second quarter. Losing out on 14 points only gave the Bears more incentive to dominate the third quarter.

“The two holding penalties killed us, I didn’t think they were that bad of calls, but it just got some of our players down on themselves and it didn’t help us,” Broderick said. “But we were able to get back up in the third quarter. Everybody was ready to play and we scored, then we kept scoring.”

Upper Moreland received the second half kick and drove right down the field, ending the drive when Mead went in from 23 yards out. Sun Valley got a 49-yard completion from Anthony Ellis to Julz Kelly on the next drive, but on the very next play, Mowery forced and recovered a fumble.

The Bears took the gift and made the most of it, going right back the other way and scoring when Olexa hit Kitchen for a six-yard score. A three-and-out from the Vanguards followed and UM was clearly feeling it, going down the field again and punching in a touchdown when McKenna scored from six yards out. Things continued to spiral downward for the Vanguards when Brossman sacked Ellis on first down following the McKenna touchdown, then Broderick forced the ball out of Kelly’s hands with Mowery scooping it up and going in from 16 yards out.

“We’re a second half team,” Mead said. “I’d say that was the best third quarter we’ve played all season. Four touchdowns, we’ll take that.”

“Once we settled down, we got fundamentally sound,” Beach said. “We scored, we stopped them, we scored and the game started to get away from them and we were good to go. What they were running wasn’t anything we hadn’t prepared for, we just had to settle down and make the plays.”

Sun Valley scored two fourth-quarter running clock touchdowns to cut into UM’s lead, but it was a 57-14 game after three quarters.

Ellis threw for 164 yards and a touchdown, finding James Gines seven times for 73 yards and hitting Dayon Belgrave for an eight-yard touchdown. Kelly ran for 115 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns and Lance Stone added a score with his 37 yards in the fourth quarter.

Now 10-0, Upper Moreland has established itself as a team to watch in the postseason. When the Bears have a run like this, which seems to happen every couple of years, there’s usually a core of players who have been together a long time leading it.

“It’s so much fun because we’ve all been friends going way back, even before middle school,” Broderick said. “We’ve been playing football together for a long time and it’s so good to play as a team.”

Upper Moreland will host Marple-Newtown next week in the quarterfinals, the third straight season the teams will have met in the postseason. Two years ago, UM trumped Marple-Newtown, but the Tigers handled the Bears last fall, so the rubber match should be a good one.

Mead said he was looking forward to it and wanted to get some payback for last year. M-N has a great passing offense, but got a fantastic rushing attack in its first-round win, so the Bears will be preparing for anything this week.

“We’re getting to know them well in the playoffs,” Beach said. “It’s going to be a good test for us. I know they’re going to want to throw the ball, so we have to be ready for that. Offensively, we just have to keep giving our skill guys a chance.”

UPPER MORELAND 14 14 29 0 – 57

SUN VALLEY 0 14 0 16 – 30

Scoring Plays

1st Quarter

UM – Brendan Olexa 6 pass to Caleb Mead (Stone Pennypacker kick) 7:25

UM – Billy McKenna 36 run (Pennypacker kick) 2:45

2nd Quarter

UM – Sterlen Barr 46 run (Pennypacker kick) 8:26

SV – Julz Kelly 12 run (kick good) 4:25

UM – Mead 29 run (Pennypacker kick) 3:08

SV – Anthony Ellis 8 pass to Dayon Begrave (kick good) 22.5

3rd Quarter

UM – Mead 23 run (Pennypacker kick) 10:29

UM – Olexa 6 pass to Cole Kitchen (Pennypacker kick) 7:59

UM – McKenna 6 run (Kitchen two-point run) 3:46

UM – Bryan Mowery 16 fumble return (Pennypacker kick) 2:19

4th Quarter

SV – Kelly 2 run (Charlie Wendling two-point run) 10:27

SV – Lance Stone 7 run (Wendling two-point run) 56.6

Team Statistics

UM        SV

First Downs        19           15

Rushes-Yards     30-292   29-154

Passing                 12-17-2-0             13-23-1-1

Passing Yards     146         164

Total Yards          438         318

Penalties-Yards 11-115   3-16

Fumbles-Lost     2-0 2-2

Individual Statistics

Rushing: UM – Caleb Mead 11-129, Sterlen Barr 9-94, Billy McKenna 5-45, Brendan Olexa 2-15, Safier Barr 3-9; SV – Julz Kelly 16-115, Charlie Wendling 3-0, Anthony Ellis 4-2, Lance Stone 6-37

Passing: UM – Brenda Olexa 12-17-2-0-146; SV – Ellis 12-23-1-1-164

Receiving: UM – Mead 2-18, Sterlen Barr 3-25, Ronnie Perrelli 3-33, Brett Brossman 2-46, Cole Kitchen 2-24; SV – James Gines 7-73, Julz Kelly 4-65, Wendling 1-18, Dayon Belgrave 1-8

Interceptions: UM – Sterlen Barr

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