PHILADELPHIA >> All Matt Dence could do was look off into space and think about what might have been.
Sure, Dence’s Germantown Academy football team lost the 131st renewal of the Penn Charter-GA football game, 26-17, at Penn Charter Saturday, but all Dence could do was remember what could have been the game’s turning point, a flag for too many men on the field that could have turned an early 14-0 GA lead into a 21-0 bulge.
Instead, the Quakers scored late in the second quarter to halve the Patriots lead, then pulled away in the second half behind the play of quarterback Will Samuel, who tossed three touchdown passes and led the comeback effort in Penn Charter’s 23-14 Inter-Ac victory.
“That’s a tough call,” Dence said. “We go up 21-0 there, and it’s a different game.
“But what can you do?”
But before the Quakers’ comeback, the Patriots (4-6, 1-4 league) looked very much like the better team throughout the first half.
It began with the visitors taking the opening kickoff and rolling down the field behind a 43-yard pass play from quarterback Lacey Snowden to Mike Reilly.
Unfortunately, Reilly fumbled the ball away and the home team covered the ball at its own 13-yard line.
But the Patriots were far from done.
On their next series, Patriots wideout Timmy Ruth snared a 25-yard touchdown pass from Snowden and found the end zone.
And one series later, Tanner Long found the end zone from the 3-yard line to double the Patriots lead.
But on GA’s next series the flags flew, and the visitors were whistled for too many men.
“It’s a tough call,” Dence said. “I’ll have to watch the film, but I don’t think the call was right. And if we go up, 21-0, there, I think we win the game.”
Instead, the Quakers (9-1, 4-1) survived, got the touchdown late in the half from receiver John Washington, who latched onto a Samuel pass with 12 seconds left, and the comeback had officially begun.
The home team got within a point of a tie midway through the third quarter when Samuel found Brendan Thomas for a 4-yard score with 5:23 left in the third quarter, and the home team took its first lead when Ryan Bradby chipped home a 19-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.
After an exchange of possession, PC went ahead to stay when Samuel found Edward Saydee behind the defense for a 47-yard score.
The Patriots got within a score when Mike Capone nailed a 25-yard field goal with 4:20 to play.
But a late field goal by Bradby locked up the result.
“It was a good season,” said GA linebacker Tanner Long, a Penn recruit. “I’ll never forget how we battled through the season and stayed brothers.”