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Pottsgrove wins backyard brawl with Pottstown, 21-9

LOWER POTTSGROVE >> There were a number of storylines circling around Friday’s Pottsgrove/Pottstown game.

The latest installment of annual clash between the intense neighboring rivals — a story in itself for decades — also carried implications for both the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s final standings and the upcoming District 1 playoffs, for which both Class AAA-sized teams have qualified. It was also Pottsgrove’s Senior/Parent Recognition Night; and, as is the case in so many instances, the Falcons’ seniors had much to do with their 21-9 victory over the Trojans at Pennypacker Field.

Pottsgrove (7-2 league, 7-3 overall) spread its point production between touchdown runs by Javon Cobert, senior quarterback Deyon Doctor and senior running back Wyatt Porter — the latter ripping off a 45-yard sprint around his left end with 3:21 left. Porter’s long run effectively sealed the deal after Pottstown (5-3, 7-3) had made it a one-possession game when Brandon Tinson’s three-yard plow up the middle closed the Falcons’ lead to 14-9 about a minute earlier.

Pottsgrove's Wyatt Porter breaks a tackle for a long run against Pottstown Friday. (Tom Kelly III - For The Mercury)

Pottsgrove’s Wyatt Porter breaks a tackle for a long run against Pottstown Friday. (Tom Kelly III – For The Mercury)

“It was a great game … a lot of emotion out there,” Pottsgrove head coach Rick Pennypacker said afterward.

While the win secured a third-place PAC finish by the Falcons, it also made a strong case for improved standing in the AAA playoff bracket, with the post-season starting next weekend.

Pottstown is also in that mix, in its final go-round under the direction of soon-to-be-departed head coach Don Grinstead. In retrospect, Grinstead saw Friday’s game as better playoff preparation than could be offered by even the most intense of practices.

“You can’t simulate the physicality of this game,” he said. “I think we won the second half … but we have to correct our mistakes.”

The Trojans’ bid for a comeback victory got derailed when Kobey Baldwin intercepted a Tinson pass at the Pottstown 35 with little more than three minutes left in the game. Though they turned the ball over on downs four plays later, the Falcons’ series took a minute off the clock — and Pottstown’s last two timeouts, leaving them only 2:06 to rack up two scores.

That was after Pottsgrove recovered an onsides kick at the Trojans’ 48 following Pottstown’s TD march. Moved back by a penalty, the Falcons got seven yards on a pair of carries by Doctor before Porter (12 carries, 72 yards) took off on what would be his team’s longest run from scrimmage.

“Penalties and sloppy play hurt us,” Pennypacker said. “I have to give them (Trojans) credit. They played well.”

Tinson was the workhorse of Pottstown’s ground game, picking up a game-high 125 yards on 17 carries. He also ripped off a 66-yard run up the middle in the fourth quarter, moving the ball from the Trojan 20 to the Falcon 24 to set up the visitors’ lone touchdown.

“We were working to stop their run, to try and contain them inside,” Tyler Smith, a junior tackle on the Falcons’ D-line, recalled. “Ryan Finn (linebacker) did an excellent job of keeping him from getting outside.”

While Tyrell Barr (12 carries, 78 yards) was leading Pottsgrove’s rushing game, Doctor gave the home team more of a passing game than seen in quite some time. He completed six of 12 passes for 84 yards, all but one of them good for double-digit yardage.

“They were crowding the box,” Pennypacker said, “so we were trying to soften them up.”

Outside the 177 rushing yards Pottstown compiled, the Falcon defense effectively shut down the Trojans’ passing. Tinson completed only two of nine throws for a total three yards, with Porter making a pick in the first half that set up Cobert’s TD.

“One of the coaches told us this week at practice we had to play like we were a caged animal,” Smith said. “Tonight, we let the animal out of the cage.”
Blanked in the first half, Pottstown came out in the second and limited Pottsgrove to four yards on three plays. Attempting a punt on fourth down, the ball was snapped over the punter’s head, and Barr covered it in the end zone for a safety.

“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Grinstead said. “We knew we had to stop those two kids (Barr, Porter), and our kids accepted the challenge.”

With the game in the books, both coaches afforded themselves the opportunity to look toward the post-season.

“It’s more for them (the players) than for me,” Grinstaed said. “I love them so much. When I took over the program three years ago, we had a different type of kid. They’ve bought into what we’re doing now.”

“We’re going to get back to it this week,” Pennypacker said.

NOTES >> Both teams attempted field goals, but without success. Senior Garrett Bleakley missed a 42-yard attempt late in the second quarter, and Logan Pennypacker was unable to convert a 42-yarder to start the fourth quarter. … Ironically, Bleakley kicked off from the Pottstown 40 following Pottsgrove’s second TD — a penalty against the Trojans assessed on the ensuing kickoff — and put the ball squarely between the uprights 50 yards away. … The senior members of Pottsgrove’s marching band and cheerleading squad were also honored, alongside the football players, during the pre-game ceremony.

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