EAST WHITELAND — Reading ran 21 more plays than Great Valley and possessed the ball almost 13 minutes longer, but it was the final three minutes, 29 seconds that the Patriots will treasure.
Leading by one against the pesky Red Knights, Great Valley coach Dan Ellis went to his seniors, during their last game on their home turf, and was not disappointed.
The Patriots drained the clock, going 68 yards before senior Josh Burgess turned down a wide-open path to the end zone and knelt it at the two to ice a 21-20 non-league victory on homecoming.
“It feels amazing,” Burgess said. “All of us as brothers in our last home game, to get the win like this was a great way to do it.”
Burgess had himself a night, catching 10 passes for 117 yards and two scores, running for 41 yards, making plays all over the field at linebacker and averaging 45 yards a punt on three tries for good measure.
“He’s having one of the best single seasons I’ve ever seen a player have,” Ellis said. “When you measure the whole picture, he’s just having an unbelievable year all around.”
The Patriots (3-6 overall) still have a shot at qualifying the District 1-5A playoffs, though a win over West Chester Rustin in the season finale is likely mandatory.
They looked like they were off to an easy evening when Burgess took a screen pass from Jake Prevost and raced 51 yards for the score less than two minutes into the game.
But as was the case for the majority of the night, Reading (1-8) slowed the game to its pace and used an 18-play, 10-plus minute drive to tie it at seven early in the second quarter.
Great Valley responded with a 72-yard drive capped by Prevost’s one-yard TD run, but Reading fought right back with a touchdown drive of their own.
“Our first drive we were off the field in a minute and a half and we didn’t get back on the field until early in the second quarter,” Ellis said. “It was hard to get into the flow of things. We figured we’d score more points but we were efficient when we had the ball and when it mattered we got stops on defense.
Burgess took another short pass on Great Valley’s opening drive of the second half and raced 35 yards to pay dirt.
It then became a defensive struggle and looked over when Brendan O’Donnell intercepted a pass at the Pats’ 25 until Reading forced a turnover three plays later. Prevost was stripped while looking for an open receiver and on the next play, Amaury Concepcion ran 18 yards to make it a one-point game. The snap was not handled and the score remained, 21-20 when Great Valley got the ball back for good.
When the Knights exhausted its timeouts they decided to concede a touchdown from their own 14, but Burgess, with the advice of assistant coach Eddie Anderson fresh in his mind, ran to the two to get the first down and took a knee.
“I’m all about getting that ‘W’ for the team,” Burgess said. “Individual stats are secondary.”
It was a memorable night for Prevost, as well, as the senior was named Homecoming King during halftime. He finished with 174 yards on the night.
“It feels great,” Prevost said. “We haven’t had the best season, but it feels so good to get the ‘W’ in our last game as seniors on this field. I love all these guys and they’re my best friends and I’m just so happy we get the win.”
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