Big Red bounces back: Second-half rally lifts Souderton over Quakertown

FRANCONIA >> This was Brayden Porter’s kind of party.

“Put your shoulder down and run behind the guards,” he said with a wide smile, describing Souderton Area’s brutish, second-half strategy.

An offensive line that has some size — moreover a mobile home in 6-foot-6, 342-pound senior Ben Murawski — broke open holes, and Porter found them 16 times for 82 yards and a pair of pivotal scores.

Porter even made some holes of his own, helping to power Big Red to a satisfying 28-23 victory over Quakertown on Opening Night.

The Indians (1-0, 1-0 SOL Continental) celebrated by doing some heavy lifting, hauling away the 309 Bowl trophy to celebrate the return of football.

“At halftime, our coaches were putting stuff together and we were really coming together as a team,” Porter said. “And we knew our No. 1 halfback, Jalen (White), went down, so we knew we had to face some adversity. So we picked it up after halftime.”

NEW ROLE >> Thrust into the starting halfback role after White (seven carries-75 yds) dislocated his thumb, Porter got settled in.

He typified Big Red’s 2020 identity.

“We’re playing a lot of new faces, so as good as those kids look in practice, it’s still the first varsity start for a lot of those kids, and it took a while for them to adjust,” Big Red coach Ed Gallagher said.

Trailing 17-12 at the half, Souderton rallied back.

After a 30-yard field goal by Nick Haynes brought Big Red within 17-15, the Indians pounced on a short kickoff, recovering the ball at the Quakertown 34.

A 12-yard pass from Evan Kutzler to Gabe Epps got things started, and five plays later, Porter burst through a hole and into the area with the big, painted letters for his first varsity score.

“It felt great,” he said. “I rolled into the end zone and it was just a rush of excitement.”

Souderton led for the first time, 22-17. Big Red recovered a Panther fumble midway through the fourth, and cashed it in with a three-yard burst by Porter.

“Our blocks were really hitting and we weren’t backing down from anything,” Porter said. “We were just hitting the hole hard and it looked really good.”

Brady Williams’ seven-yard score sliced the Quakertown deficit to 28-23, but Souderton stopped the two-point run attempt, and then powered down the clock with a 10-play drive that consumed the remaining 6 minutes and 32 seconds of the contest.

BACK AND FORTH >> Quakertown scored on its first possession of the contest.

The Panthers moved the ball 63 yards in nine plays, the methodical march paying off with a 27-yard field goal by Madison Peacher.

That would be the only points of the first quarter.

The Panthers increased their lead midway through the second, when a wide-open Zach Fondl gathered in a deep ball by Will Steich for a 69-yard touchdown and a 10-0 Quakertown lead.

Big Red responded on its next series.

The Indians used runs by White and Porter to get the drive moving, and with some timely passes, Big Red marched to the Quakertown nine.

A shovel pass to Willie Goods was good for Souderton’s first touchdown, and Big Red was back in it. Big Red was unable to get the extra-point attempt off, leaving the margin at 10-6.

Quakertown scored on its second straight possession of the quarter when Tyler Merwarth brought down a jump ball from Steich (216 yds), the five-yard toss widening the gap to 17-6.

However, the Indians got the ball back just before the half, and a 40-yard deep ball to Goods set up his 10-yard score on a shovel pass. That provided Souderton a burst of momentum it would never lose.

Said Gallagher of the win: “We had to get the first one. It was sloppy but we took care of what we needed to. We have a big, physical line this year. As much as we’re a Wing-T offense, we tried to adjust at halftime and do what’s best for our personnel.

“I’m very happy with the way the kids bounced back.”

Souderton 28, Quakertown 23
Quakertown 3 14 0 6 – 23
Souderton 0 12 10 6 – 28
First Quarter
Q-Madison Peacher 27 field goal, 5:30.
Second Quarter
Q-Zach Fondl 69 pass from Will Steich, 7:57.
S-Willie Goods 9 pass from Evan Kutzler (kick failed), 4:04.
Q-Tyler Merwarth 5 pass from Steich, 2:01.
S-Goods 10 pass from Kutzler (run failed), :07.
Third Quarter
S-Nick Haynes 30 field goal, 2:13.
S-Brayden Porter 4 run (Haynes kick), :00.
Fourth Quarter
S-Porter 3 run (run failed), 7:23.
Q-Brady Williams 7 run (run failed), 6:32.

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