Quakertown hits its stride in second half, rolls Upper Perkiomen 41-0

RED HILL >> When Upper Perkiomen hosted Quakertown Friday, the outcome wasn’t much different from their go-round one year earlier.
To their credit, a 41-0 loss to the Panthers notwithstanding, the Indians made a much better showing against their neighboring rivals early on. In contrast to the 38-0 debacle it faced on opening night in 2014, UP stayed in reach of its guests for much of the first half, trailing only by seven after one quarter and 20 at intermission.
But then the effort came undone. Quakertown put up another 21 points in the third quarter, bringing the “running clock” into play with about 16 minutes left in the season opener, and Upper Perk had no answer for the Panthers’ potent offense and shutdown defense.
“We definitely gave Quakertown a better look this time,” UP head coach Tom Hontz said afterward. “But we need to finish drives. If we don’t finish against our next opponent, it will be the same thing.”
The inability to capitalize on deep drives into Panther territory undid much of the momentum Upper Perk mounted in the first quarter. It got as far as the Quakertown 28 in its first possession before being forced to punt the ball away, and had the same outcome the second time it had the ball – albeit at the visitors’ 38.
Quakertown had no such problem, scoring on three of its four first-half offensive series. It put together another trifecta in the third, which put both teams in the position of working younger players outside the projected starting lineups.
“It’s always a positive when you can get the young guys in,” Quakertown head coach George Banas noted. “They get beat up all week playing on the scout team in practice, so getting them on the field in a game is a positive.”
Banas and his staff were able to do just that, with the reward of seeing 10 players contribute to the Panthers’ offensive output.
Senior running back Rob Burns racked up 138 yards on 14 carries as the workhorse of Quakertown’s running game. He also made three touchdown runs, an 11-yard burst at 6:23 in the first quarter and a pair of one-yard plunges.
Classmate Kyle Baskin came up big in the receiving game, covering 43 yards on five receptions with TD catches of nine and six yards. And quarterback Tom Garlick stepped in to direct the entire production, going 8-for-11 in passing for 156 yards while rushing for another 13.
“We have a lot of our skill people back on offense,” Banas said. “Garlick is new behind center, but most of the rest of the offensive side is back.”
Jon Polynski gave the Panthers’ running game a fresh set of legs in the second half, covering 108 yards on five totes and scoring once at the 10:40 mark in the third quarter. All told, 10 Quakertown players contributed to the offense during the night.
“It’s the same old same-old,” Hontz said. “We have some athletes, but they have more and they wore us down. We can’t afford to make little mistakes against a team like this.”
The offensive highlights for UP were its backfield tandem of Tyler Whary and Mike Felix. They combined for 74 yards, Whary with 44 and Felix 30, primarily in the first half.
But the passing game saw Zeke Hallman complete just six of 21 passes for 45 yards. Felix emerged as his primary target, making three catches for 22 yards.
“Our passing game is better than that,” Hontz said. “Maybe Zeke had a bit of nerves.”
Defensively, Austin Bittenbender picked off a Garlick pass to close out the first half, and Josh Engdahl had a sack of the Quakertown signal-caller in the first quarter. Upper Perk got another positive in Ryan Kendra’s play on special teams, the sophomore returning four kickoffs for an average of 25 yards per.
“We didn’t play well in the first half,” Banas said. “We were missing assignments, and they (UP) had a good plan, attacking the stuff we were doing.
“We challenged them at the half, and they answered the bell. I thought we played a solid third quarter, dictating the tempo.”

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