BOYERTOWN >> From back-and-forth to blowout.
That was the story of the two halves that were Friday’s Boyertown/Spring-Ford game. A tit-for-tat first half gave way to a second that saw the Rams dominate their hosts on the way to a 55-20 victory in a pairing of Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division teams.
The Bears (1-2 PAC, 2-5 overall) went one-up on Spring-Ford three times in the early going, only to see the visitors (3-0, 5-2) answer in kind. But Boyertown had no answer for SF in the second half, its Homecoming contest ultimately coming out as a running-clock affair over the final five minutes.
“We felt our offense had to be more aggressive,” Ram quarterback Ryan Engro, who ran for a pair of touchdowns and threw for another pair, said. “We ran the ball more. Running the ball was the key to the game.”
The first half took on foot-race characteristics literally from the opening kickoff. Jamie Moccia, Boyertown’s leading rusher with 100 yards on 17 carries, got the home crowd electrified by fielding the ball at his five-yard line and roaring the distance to the Spring-Ford end zone with just 19 seconds elapsed.
“We blew the kick,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker noted. “We didn’t want it to go to Moccia.”
The Bears kept the momentum in their favor when they recovered the fumbled kickoff and drove to the Ram 19. But they fumbled in turn, Spring-Ford recovered at its own 18 and went 82 yards in seven plays, Armante Haynes bulling his way up the middle for the final two and a 7-7 tie.
That sequence repeated itself two more times in the opening half, Moccia adding a 40-yard TD run and quarterback Mason Marinello hooking up with Connor Rohrbach on a 22-yard scoring pass. Spring-Ford responded with Nick Teets pulling in Engro passes of 26 and 28 yards to help the Rams go into the locker room at the half up 21-20.
The Rams’ breakout second half started out with Engro (nine carries, 107 yards) going 14 yards around his right end at the 9:27 mark. He capped the late surge with a five-yard scoring burst through his left tackle with 5:15 left to play, the last of Grant Sillyman’s seven conversion kicks staking SF to its ultimate 35-point lead and a running clock for the duration.
In between, the Rams got another TD run from Haynes (seven yards, 11:38 fourth) and two from Harry Adieyefeh. The sophomore, coming into the game late in the third quarter, chalked up a team-best 144 yards with help from runs of 42 and 53 yards from scrimmage.
“Armante was going both ways, so we figured he was getting gassed,” Engro said. “Harry gives us a different look.”
The Rams’ committee approach to its offense was necessitated to a degree by an injury to James Albert. After pulling in a pass from Engro, Albert went 23 yards to the SF two before a tackle left him out of action with a protective cast on his left arm.
“We played our heart out for Albert,” Engro said.
And while injuries have taken a toll all season, Spring-Ford has found players to pick up slack and fill spots.
“We’ve had people step up,” Engro said. “We’ve gotten big contributions.”
“That’s what we’ve got to do,” Brubaker said. “We’ve had a run of injuries. Somebody has to figure it out.”
Turnovers also worked to Spring-Ford’s advantage. Haynes and Mason Brill picked off Marinello (7-for-14, 43 yards) — Brill’s interception set the stage for Adieyefeh’s first TD at 10;25 — and Johnny Pergine recovered a fumble at the Boyertown one, from where Adieyefeh scored little more than two minutes later.
“Playing a shorter field helps,” Brubaker said, “and we took a lot of time off the clock.”
Engro put together a complementary passing game in which he seven of 16 throws for 143 yards. Teets was his favorite target, catching four for 83 yards.
Along with Albert, Zach High (21 yards) and Dante Bonanni (15) had other big receptions for the Rams.
On the Boyertown side, Marinello was 7-for-16 in the air for 43 yards. Rohrbach had 41 of them off three catches.
NOTES > Moccia’s kickoff-return touchdown was the fourth of his scholastic career. … Along with Homecoming, Boyertown showed its support for battling breast cancer by decking out the stadium in pink.