Garcia’s big game helps lift Phoenixville over Pope John Paul II

UPPER PROVIDENCE >> Phoenixville’s rushing attack the past three games had been nonexistent.

It took Matt Garcia two quarters to bring it back to life.

The junior running back ran for a career-best 140 yards on 19 carries, scoring Phoenixville’s lone touchdown while effectively sealing it at the end in the Phantoms’ 10-7 victory over Pope John Paul II Saturday afternoon on the Golden Panthers’ Homecoming game.

“It was an excellent job by our kids to grind it out when we needed to grind it out,” Phoenixville head coach Evan Breisblatt said. “Having Matt Garcia back with two hands is certainly better than one.”

Garcia’s running came alive in the second half, racking up 126 of his total of 140 in the final two quarters. The back was pivotal in the Phantoms’ win, expanding a 3-0 lead with a 24-yard touchdown run, before dashing PJP’s comeback hopes with a 36-yard toss sweep that allowed the Phantoms to go into the victory formation two plays later.

His 140-yard total was nearly 100 yards more than Phoenixville had registered rushing in its past three losses (36). The team was limited to -26 yards rushing in a loss to Pottsgrove before rushing for 25 and 37 yards the next two weeks.

“Our line just created big holes and created big cut back holes for me to run through,” Garcia said. “Coach just told me to keep fighting, run through tacklers and keep moving.”

Garcia’s rejuvenation in the second half wasn’t alone as the offense registered 229 of its 283 yards in the second half. Division I recruit Matt Palubinsky, stymied for the majority of the first half by a persistent PJP defense, finished the game with 46 yards rushing on 16 carries and eight receptions for 57 yards as the Phantoms (2-4 PAC-10, 2-5 overall) doubled its win total from last season. Green Copy

“In the locker room we thought we had it,” Palubinsky said. “We just had to start fresh in the second half. It was 0-0, two goose eggs on the board. We came out in the second half and took it to them.”

Senior quarterback Matt Duff led the way for PJP (0-6 PAC-10, 0-7 overall), throwing for 189 yards on 15-of-28 passing with one touchdown and one interception while running back Dan Cirino made the most of his 14 carries, finishing with 72 yards.

The Golden Panthers had long drives throughout the contest, but were denied on each one, missing a field goal to cap a 15-play, 67-yard drive on their first possession, failing to score with the ball at the Phoenixville 1-yard line with 10 seconds left in the first half, and throwing an interception after a seven-play drive got the team down to the PHX 24.

The defensive effort in the first half, however, was a bright spot in the loss as it limited Phoenixville to just 54 yards of total offense.

“Every loss is tough but this was a real good opportunity for us,” Pope John Paul II head coach Rory Graver said. “I’m proud of our guys’ effort. They faced some serious adversity this week and they responded.

“We played great on the defensive side of the ball, our offense moved the ball between the 20s. Once we got inside the 20s we couldn’t make enough plays.”

Coming out of the half after stopping PJP at the 1-yard line, the Phantoms made the most of their first drive, going on a 15-play drive that yielded a Garcia Ramirez 42-yard field goal to make it 3-0. Following an interception by Nasir Green, the Phantoms went on the scoring march again. Quarterback Troy Rossman (11-of-17 for 99 yards) connected with Green, who hauled in a pass in traffic along the sideline for a 32-yard gain. That set up Garcia’s run, as he took a handoff, was stuffed inside, bounced out, got the edge and raced for the aforementioned 24-yard touchdown to make it 10-0. Palubinskycopy

Duff then connected with Sean Brennan for a 17-yard score to make it 10-7 before leading the team down inside the Phantom 30 with three minutes remaining. That, however, was the closest PJP got to scoring. Jon Miller and Durron Johnson came up with momentous back-to-back sacks that forced a PJP punt. Garcia then finished it off with the 36-yard toss sweep on 3rd and 14 to cue the pending Phantoms celebration.

“The sacks were huge,” Breisblatt said. “Things were getting dicey with our injuries and Dorran comes up with a huge sack out of nowhere. Jon, a sophomore, also came up big.

“I don’t think anyone would have said that this would be a 10-7 ballgame going into it, but both teams played really well defensively.”


Pope John Paul II00077


Player Comp Att Pass Yds Pass TD Int. Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec. TD Sacks Def. Int XPM XPA FGM FGA
Biron Miguel Garcia Ramirez00000000000001111
Troy Rossman111799002-20000000000
Matt Palubinsky00000164608570000000
Matt Garcia000001914011100000000
Durron Johnson00000000000100000
Jon Miller000000000001.500000
Nasir Green000000002320010000
Bryce Thompson000000000000.500000

Pope John Paul II

Player Comp Att Pass Yds Pass TD Int. Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec. TD Sacks Def. Int XPM XPA FGM FGA
Andrew Salvo00000620230000000
Joey Giannone00000140000000000
Ryan Kormos000000005760000000
Dan Cirino00000147202290000000
Sean Brennan000000001171000000
Rick DAquilante000000003420000000
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