UPPER MERION >> With Upper Merion holding onto a 14-0 lead as the second half of Friday’s game got underway, the Vikings were looking for some momentum to pull away from the visiting Upper Perkiomen Tribe, and it was one of their captains that delivered.
Linebacker Marc Clayton scooped up an Upper Perk fumble on the opening play of the half and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown, giving his team a three-score lead as it pulled away for an eventual 27-7 win over its PAC Frontier foe.
“I just read the play and I saw the ball pop out and I knew I needed to get to it,” Clayton said. “Once I got it I just took off, because last year I got caught from behind on pick off and a fumble recovery so I needed to finish this one.”
Defense has been the strength of Upper Merion (4-2, 2-0) for most of the season, averaging 15 points against per game, and Friday night was no different.
The Vikings made life difficult for Upper Perk (1-5, 0-2) quarterback Hunter Flack, sacking him seven times in the win.
“We have a lot of good players on that line,” Upper Merion head coach Victor Brown said. “Justin Fisher had a great game tonight, he works hard, he’s a quiet guy but his motor in unbelievable. We had a lot of guys apply pressure.”
When that pressure wasn’t leading to sacks it was forcing turnovers. Upper Merion picked off Flack three times, including an Aaron Anderson interception in the end zone with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter that sealed the win.
“We’ve been on a tough roll lately. We got some things going in the second half but it wasn’t enough,” Upper Perk head coach Tom Hontz said. “I think sometimes Hunter (Flack) feels like he needs to do too much and ends up forcing some throws, but overall he’s a leader for us and does a great job.”
Flack finished with a game-high 117 yards through the air on 11-of-19 passing. He also had the Tribe’s only touchdown of the game, which came on a 1-yard QB sneak in the third quarter.
Offensively, the Upper Merion run game was effective, totaling 258 yards on 34 rushes. The Vikings were led by Anthony Swenda’s game-high 140 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
“He (Swenda) is as physical of a back as you’ll find in our conference,” Brown said. “Anthony has just been a go-to-guy for us and he’s made some huge plays for us this season with some big-time runs.”
Swenda’s longest run of the night came on his final touch, as he broke three tackles on his way to a 55-yard fourth-quarter touchdown.
“The O-line makes it all happen,” Swenda said. “I was able to break the two tackles but I thought the last guy was going to get me, luckily he didn’t and I was able to get all the way to the end-zone. I’m not used to those long runs.”
Upper Merion’s Taiyan Lobban had 111 yards of offense, rushing for 71 and catching five passes for 40 yards.
The Vikings travel to Pottstown next week before games against Pottsgrove and Pope John Paul II close out their regular season, and coach Brown said his team, which committed eight penalties in Friday’s win, knows it’ll need to play clean football if it wants to continue winning.
“We need to stop getting penalized or it’s going to start costing us games,” coach Brown said. “Pottstown will be a big challenge for us. It’s not like we’re blowing team out, we’re playing four quarters to win these games and we can’t afford to look down the road.”
The Tribe hosts Pottsgrove on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.
“We’ve got to keep plugging,” Hontz said. “Next week doesn’t get any easier with Pottsgrove but hopefully we can finish strong with some wins like we did last year.”
Upper Merion 27, Upper Perkiomen 0
Upper Merion 7 7 7 6 — 27
Upper Perkiomen 0 0 7 0 — 7
UM — 1 yard run by Dale Clayton; 00:59
UM — 4 yard run by Anthony Swenda; 3:52
UM — 31 yard fumble return by Marc Clayton; 11:45
UP — 1 yard run by Hunter Flack; 9:27
UM — 55 yard run by Anthony Swenda
First Downs 16 8
Rushing yards 258 101
Passing yards 56 117
Total yards 314 218
Passing 8-19 11-19
Penalties 8-85 6-45
Fumbles-Lost 3-0 1-1
Punts-Avg 5-28.8 4-36.3
UM: Anthony Swenda 17-140 2 TD; Dale Clayton 4-18 1 TD; Taiyan Lobban 5-71; Marc Clayton 1-0; Matt Zielinski 6-20; Aaron Anderson 1-8.
UP: Trey Robinson 16-71; Hunter Flack 11-11; Malachi Duka 2-19.
UM: Dale Clayton 8-19 56 Yards
UP: Hunter Flack 11-19 117 Yards 3 INT
UM: Marc Clayton 1-3; Anhony Swenda 2-13; Taiyan Lobban 5-40
UP: Trey Robinson 1-29; Brady Thompson 2-30; Andrew Carducci 5-36; Joe Delzingaro 1-4; Malachi Duka 2-18.
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