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Perk Valley uses 2nd-quarter burst to beat Pennridge

EAST ROCKHILL >> Before he was hit in the backfield, Jon Moccia was hit with inspiration.

“I saw Saquon Barkley do it,” the Perkiomen Valley senior running back said. “I just tried it and it worked.”

Right after taking the handoff from quarterback Ethan Kohler, Moccia spun to evade one Pennridge tackle attempt then still in danger unleashed another spin to find open field and dash across the goal line for a five-yard score with 58 seconds left in the second quarter.

“I didn’t even know if I was still up on the second one,” he said. “But I just saw daylight, had to get in the end zone.”

Moccia’s whirling run capped off a quick burst of offense for the Vikings at the end of the first half. Perk Valley scored 21 points in the final five minutes before the break and went on to hold off the host Rams to claim a 24-6 nonleague victory Friday night at Helman Field.

“I was the proud of the way our kids responded,” PV coach Rob Heist said. “This is a great football team up here, they have a lot of pride, they take a lot of pride in their program and to come up here and to get a win is huge for our program. I was proud of our week of practice, I thought our kids were focused after losing last week to (Downingtown) East and they showed up tonight to play so it was good.”

With both teams looking to bounce back after getting handed their first losses the previous week, Friday’s game turned in a span of three plays and 21 seconds in the second quarter. After Moccia gave the Vikings (2-1) a 7-0 lead with his 8-yard touchdown run at 4:40, Pennridge (1-2) fumbled the ball away on the first play of the ensuing drive. The next snap, Jacob Sturm proceeded to rumble 33 yards to the end zone and PV was up 14-0 in a flash.

“Problem is you’re going to hit adversity on the football field no one who you’re playing or where you’re playing and we got to be better at it,” Rams coach Cody Muller said. “We got to be better at standing up to the challenge. It’s something that I preach to the kids a lot and obviously I need to do a better job.”

The Rams pulled within 21-6 in the third after taking advantage of Perk Valley touching a punt near the Vikings’ goal line. The Rams had a chance to cut further into the PV lead after recovering a fumble at the Viking 30 early in the fourth, but that series ended with Pennridge turning the ball over on downs at the 14. Five plays later, Sturm broke away for a 61-yard run down to the Rams 5 which led to a 22-yard field goal from Brayden Basile to make it 24-6 with 4:57 left.

“We got to take care of the basics,” Muller said. “Firing off the football on the offensive line, doing the right things, catching the football. Defensively, we’ve got to tackle. There’s so many plays out there we left on the field cause we just didn’t wrap our arms, we just let them go. Everybody thinks they’re playing Madden, trying to use the hit stick, I don’t know.”

PV’s 1-2 Punch

Sturm and Moccia carried the Perk Valley offense, helping the Vikings post 247 yards on the ground during a night that a bit messy as wet conditions persisted through much of the first half.

“I thought we ran the ball, for the most part, pretty well,” Heist said. “We had a couple big losses in the backfield that I think hurt our rushing statistics but when we needed to we ran the ball pretty well, especially that quarter when it was raining and it tough to throw.”

Sturm finished with a game-high 152 yards on 11 carries — 33 coming on his touchdown run at 4:19 in the second quarter as he bounced left through the line, spun through a pair of tackle attempts then cut back right and sprinted away for the score.

“Sturm’s a beast,” Moccia said. “He saved this game for us. “

Moccia ran for a pair of touchdowns and collected 71 yards on 17 carries. He gave the Vikings the 7-0 lead at 4:40 in the second quarter off a direct snap, going around the left side to score from eight yards out.

“Our line’s doing what our coach is saying,” Moccia said. “If our line’s doing what our coach is saying, if our line’s doing their job, we’re going to rush for some good yards.”

Rams still Looking for Offense

Pennridge’s offense got off to a great start as quarterback Bobby Croyle connected with Brayden Landherr for 45 yards on the game’s first snap, putting the Rams on the Viking 42. But the Rams went on to pick up just four more yards on the drive and punted.

Seven of Pennridge’s first nine possessions Friday ended with punts as the Rams lost their second straight and were held to single digits in back-to-back games for the first time since 2009 when it lost to Archbishop Wood 16-0 and Souderton 27-7.

A punt actually turned into one of Pennridge’s best offensive plays of the night, as a punt rolling close to the Perk Valley goal line was touched by a PV player and recovered by the Rams at the Viking 5. Croyle’s 1-yard TD on a 3rd-and-Goal QB sneak made it 21-6 at 2:12 in the third.

On Perkiomen Valley’s next drive, Pennridge forced and recovered a fumble a the PV 30 but the Rams’ drive stalled at the 14 and turned the ball over after three straight incompletions.

“We have a lot of talent guys, a lot of guys that can play football that are very, very good football players, unfortunately we you get out on a Friday night it’s a whole different ballgame,” Muller said. “It’s different than practice. So I was confident in our guys after the first week, even the second week, the way we responded the second half, tonight again we just got to figure out who we are and what we’re going to be.”

Croyle paced Pennridge on the ground with 45 yards and a TD on 10 carries as the Rams registered 112 yards on 32 carries.

Up Next

Both Perk Valley and Pennridge have tough matchups on the road next week. Perk Valley heads to Chester County for a contest with Downingtown West, which improved to 3-0 Friday by trouncing Neshaminy 48-6. PV lost to the Whippets 44-33 in 2018’s season opener.

“This is going to be a great one,” Heist said. “This is November football in September against a team like Downingtown West down at Kottmeyer (Stadium), Division I quarterback (Will Howard), (West coach) Mike Milano has a great program down there and we’re going to be excited. It’s going to be fun one.”

Pennridge, meanwhile, opens its SOL Continental Conference schedule at Crawford Stadium against North Penn, which moved to 2-1 with a 13-3 win over Pennsbury. The Rams have lost their last six meeting with the Knights, falling 42-20 in last season’s game.

“We know that because of our league and our non(league) schedule, we don’t pad it up with cupcake teams,” Muller said. “We want to play the best and see who we are. And week-in, week-out, we’re going to go to battle.”

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