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Quakertown cuts down Perkiomen Valley in District 1-6A opener

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GRATERFORD >> Quakertown went in to Friday’s District 1 Class 6A playoff game against Perkiomen Valley with a simple gameplan: Run the ball, win the turnover battle and control the clock. And if driving rains aided the cause? So be it.

The Panthers executed their gameplan to perfection, rushing for 268 yards and holding the ball for nearly 34 minutes in a downpour to upset the sixth-seeded Vikings, 26-14.

“We said time of possession would win the game,” Quakertown coach George Banas explained. ”I thought this was our best game of the year in terms of execution. I couldn’t be more proud of my players tonight.”

Quakertown set the tone immediately, taking up nearly seven minutes of clock on their opening drive, a 14-play, 63-yard march that ended with a 4-yard touchdown run from Tyler Merwarth.

Perkiomen Valley came right back with a touchdown drive of their own, scoring on a 12-yard pass from Cole Peterlin to Austin Rowley, but the Vikings’ high-powered offense were left to watch on the sideline as Quakertown put together a nine-minute drive that resulted in a go-ahead touchdown. Perkiomen Valley’s only other first-half possession ended with an interception.

“It’s tough not getting the ball,” Perkiomen Valley coach Rob Heist said. “Our defense has been ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ all season long and they had some long drives and we got a couple great stops, but we weren’t able to do what we wanted to do on offense tonight.”

The Vikings’ offense sputtered out of the gate in the second half, but with the rain falling, Quakertown muffed a punt and handed Perkiomen Valley the ball just six yards away from the end zone. Jon Moccia ran for a touchdown on the very next play to tie the game.

Despite never playing on a grass field in his high school career, Quakertown running back Christian Patrick took over in the fourth quarter, ripping off a 40-yard run and scoring a touchdown to cap off the drive and give the Panthers a 20-14 lead.

“We’ve never played on turf these past three years,” Patrick explained. “We actually have a grass field behind our school, so we practiced there once this week to get comfortable with it. Still, it was really hard running and cutting in the mud.”

Patrick finished the night with 196 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on 31 carries.

Quakertown resorted to a pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff, but the Vikings struggled to handle the slick football and ended up recovering it at their own 2-yard-line. Following a three-and-out and a short punt, Quakertown quarterback Brad Bryan dove across the goal line to ice the game.

“We worked on those pooch kicks a lot this week,” Banas said. “We stayed after practice on Wednesday night and practiced over 20 of them because we didn’t want to put the ball in their hands and give them a chance to make a big play.”

For Perkiomen Valley, Friday night’s loss ended the season of the three-time defending PAC champions, who have been undefeated in the conference since 2016.

“Our seniors have so much to be proud of,” Heist said. “They played three seasons without losing a PAC game. They’re three-time PAC champions and they just went toe-to-toe with one of the best schools in the area. These kids played their hearts out and we’re going to miss this senior class, without question.”

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