ASTON — Great Valley’s Michael Corrigan wasn’t worried after Sun Valley scored on the opening kick of the Ches-Mont League football season Friday night.
Antonio Rivera raced 88 yards to the end zone in 15 seconds to put the Vanguards in front. It was an emotional night for Sun Valley, which honored late teammate Tazuan “Taz” Thomas, who died in an automobile accident in July.
For the visiting Patriots, they could see how hyped up the Vanguards were, and knew they had to be patient. One play, even one as emotional as Rivera’s kick return, would not break Great Valley on the first night of a season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.
Corrigan was the leading man for the Patriots. He ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns as Great Valley rallied for a 20-6 victory.
“We couldn’t get flustered,” Corrigan said. “That wasn’t the way we wanted to start the game, but we knew we were a better team than that and we were going to bring it back.”
Corrigan was grateful for the opportunity to play this year. A month ago, the Ches-Mont — and many other leagues in District 1 — had decided to postpone fall sports until after the New Year. The Ches-Mont is now embarking on a five-week season.
“It felt great to be back,” Corrigan said. “We didn’t think it was going to happen, but that’s what made it that much sweeter. We started off the game behind a little bit, but we kept fighting to get the win and that’s what we did.”
Great Valley overcame a shaky start on offense. The team relied on smart game management from quarterback Andy Talone and an offensive line that had its way against Sun Valley’s defensive front. The O-line of Great Valley consisted of Nick Mort, Gavin Greco, Jose Caballero, Duffy Cotter and Sean McNamara.
“Those guys did a great job all night,” Corrigan said.
After Sun Valley’s hot start, the Patriots settled in and controlled the tempo. GV dominated time of possession and ran 57 offensive plays. It outgained Sun Valley in total offense, 249-85.
The bright spot for Sun Valley was senior Ty McLaughlin, who switched from running back to quarterback during the game and completed four passes for 50 yards. Kevin Mayoros, who started behind center, had three catches for 47 yards.
“We just didn’t get the adjustments down until after halftime,” McLaughlin said. “I mean, we knew what they were doing. The momentum kind of went down after we scored and we couldn’t get it back.”
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Rivera was limited to only six touches after the opening kick. The multi-faceted senior finished with 16 yards on five carries and hauled in one pass for three yards.
“We had our ups and downs, but the downs turned into touchdowns and the momentum shifted in the second quarter,” Rivera said.
The Vanguards had a chance to build upon their lead, but penalties and ineffectiveness proved costly. On the Vanguards’ second drive they marched inside the Great Valley 30, but after going in the wrong direction, they were forced to punt. They were unable to drive that deep into Patriots territory the rest of the night.
“It was obviously a great to start, the kids were fired up,” Sun Valley coach Greg “Bubba” Bernhardt said. “It’s just I think overall, our guys have to learn how to win, you know what I mean? We run the kickoff back and we had said we’re going to go for two (points) on the opening score, and we run a play that’s wide open, but we just failed to execute. … We’ve just got to clean up our own mistakes. We put ourselves behind the sticks too much, so we’ve got to stop hurting ourselves. That’s all a part of learning how to win and doing the little things and stop the self-inflictrf wounds.”
Corrigan scored the first of his two TDs with 5:04 left in the second quarter. After Dan Crouse intercepted McLaughlin, GV went right back to work on offense. Corrigan sprinted 11 yards to pay dirt to give the Patriots a 13-6 lead. Andy Talone scrambled to the end zone from three yards out in the fourth quarter to put Great Valley ahead by two scores.
“We just have to learn and get better from it,” McLaughlin said.