PHOENIXVILLE >> Alex Washington ran for some hard yards Friday.
He got a bunch more that were considerably easier to accumulate. But hard or easy, they were all key to Phoenixville holding off Methacton, 14-7, in their Pioneer Athletic Conference divisional crossover game at Washington Field.
Washington did his part to support the school’s Senior/Parent Recognition ceremonies for the football team, marching band and cheerleading squad. The Phantom senior picked off two passes, running the first back 80 yards for a touchdown and the second stopping a last-ditch Methacton march for a potential tying score.
He had another 61 yards on 15 carries, getting his number called several times during Phoenixville’s second scoring drive inside the game’s final eight minutes, and twice to close out the final 1:40 after recording his second pick.
“It was a great game,” Washington said of a victory that helps the Phantoms (4-6) remain masters of their postseason destiny. “The comeback … I’m so happy.”
Methacton (1-9) rode a surging pass game to the early lead, quarterback Mike Merola hooking up with Andrew Balek on a 12-yard pass 37 seconds before halftime. Merola went on to accumulate 191 yards on 16-for-28 accuracy, working in tandem with six different receivers.
But Washington put a major crimp in Merola’s aerial achievements.
With the Warriors 20 yards away from the Phoenixville end zone and marching, Washington intercepted his second-down pass and ran down the visitors’ sideline for a touchdown which, capped by quarterback Connor Patania completing a conversion pass to Aidan Foley, put the Phantoms up 8-7.
“That was the first pick-6 for my high school career,” Washington recalled. “I think I was running forever.”
The second interception, coming with the Warriors on the Pottstown 39 inside the final two minutes, was returned by Washington to midfield. From there, he ran twice to drain the clock of its final 100 seconds.
“I was creeping on the flat, they tossed it in my direction, and I took it away,” he said.
“I’d like to have more kids like him,” Phoenixville head coach Don Grinstead added.
Travis Pannella (11 carries, 44 yards) had the Phantoms’ go-ahead touchdown with 2:38 left in the game, bulling his way 10 yards up the middle to cap a 13-play, 72-yard drive. With help from Washington’s timely second pick, it proved enough to bring the night to a satisfactory end for Phoenixville.
“We stopped making mistakes” was Grinstead’s answer to his team overcoming its early play. “That was uncharacteristic of us. We didn’t have a lot of penalties in our games. We stopped beating us, and let them try to beat us.”
Phoenixville displayed a modest passing game, Patania going 8-for-14 for 113 yards to five different players. Washington also got into that act, making two catches for 32 yards to match teammate Jack Pizor’s output.
On the Methacton side, Steve Brown proved to be Merola’s main target, with seven catches for 46 yards. Gary Knox, Justin Carfrey, Balek and Ron Fondots all had pairs of catches along the way.
“We tried mixing our coverages up, not allowing them anything vertical,” Grinstead noted.
As for their District 1 playoff status, Grinstead is taking a “wait and see” approach.
“I have to see what the other (game) scores are first,” he said.
NOTES >> Knox and Colby Stahl recovered Phoenixville fumbles in the first half. Matt Johnson had a recovery for the Phantoms. … Washington describing Phoenixville’s running game, which collected 122 yards against Methacton: “We’re a grinding offense, getting three yards a play. Our linemen get us in position.”
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