KING OF PRUSSIA >> The Owen J. Roberts football team didn’t know for quite awhile if it would even get to play a game this season. But the Wildcats kept on practicing and preparing while decisions were being made and wound up playing six times, finishing at 3-3 after a 21-0 win Friday night at Upper Merion.
Avrey Grimm ran for 82 yards and a touchdown and returned a fumble for another score and the OJR defense set up two TD’s with a fumble recovery and an interception while allowing only 95 total yards. Alzere Thomas ran for 68 yards on 10 carries for the Vikings (0-3).
“I think we were all a little worried,” junior running back and outside linebacker Grimm said concerning the doubt during preseason practice. “We all stuck with it. We kept working in case we did play. Did the best we could in six games.”
“We just kept going at it like we were going to play,” said Wildcat coach Rich Kolka. “Everybody was in the same boat. We were fortunate our district let us play. We were lucky enough to get six in.”
OJR failed to gain a first down on the game’s opening possession. Then Upper Merion put together what turned out to be its best drive of the night, starting with a 29-yard run by Thomas. The Vikings marched from their own 35 yard line to the Wildcat eight in eight plays, but missed a 25-yard field goal attempt and never got that close to scoring again.
“They missed the field goal and we were over here talking,” said Grimm. “We just rallied. We said, let’s step it up. Let’s do it for the seniors. Let’s do everything we can to win it for the seniors.”
“That was a momentum swing,” Kolka said concerning the defensive stop on a 3rd-and-5 play and the missed field goal. “That was a really nice drive by them. If they make that, there’s a difference having to play from behind.”
Still, Roberts did not manage to score until late in the half and they did it on a 20-yard drive after a Viking fumble, with Grimm running the last six yards into the end zone.
The Wildcats had another good chance to score early in the third quarter when senior Dante DeNardo returned a punt 38 yards to the nine. But a sack helped to push the visitors back to the 20 and the Vikings eventually took over on downs at the 26.
OJR was in business again late in the third when a hard hit jarred the ball away from a Viking receiver and Dominic Franks picked the ball out of the air and returned it to the Upper Merion 27. The Wildcats scored five plays later on a 12-yard pass from Will Whitlock to Aston Shrum.
Then Grimm returned a fumble 22 yards for a touchdown on the opening play of the fourth quarter to clinch the win.
Jalen Alexander rushed for 49 yards for Upper Merion, which was held to a 2.3-yard average on 42 running plays and did not complete a pass on three attempts.
OJR ran for 119 yards, including 28 on three carries by senior Christian Grossi.
Kolka was happy to finish at .500 with a team that included only eight seniors.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids out there,” he said. “The seniors battled through injuries. To see them out there on the field was impressive. There was a lot of stress put on getting to .500. That’s six seasons in a row at .500 or better.”
Owen J. Roberts 21
Upper Merion 0
OWEN J. ROBERTS 0 7 6 8 – 21
UPPER MERION 0 0 0 0 – 0
OJR-Grimm 6 run (Johnson kick)
OJR-Shrum 12 pass from Whitlock (kick failed)
OJR-Grimm 22 fumble return (Grimm run)
First downs 7 7
Rushing yards 119 95
Passing yards 4 0
Total yards 123 95
Passes C-A-I 4-8-0 0-4-1
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 5-3
Penalties-Yards 4-35 2-15
Punts-Avg. 6-32.5 5-36.6
OWEN J. ROBERTS – Grimm 15-82, TD; Grossi 3-28; Cutrone 4-9; Rhoads 6-7; Reed 1-2; Whitlock 8-(-9);
UPPER MERION – Thomas 10-68; Alexander 19-49; Roberts-Clapper 4-4, Clayton 1-4; Seals 6-(-10); Zielinski 2-(-20).
OWEN J. ROBERTS – Whitlock 2-4-8, TD; Reed 2-4-(-4).
UPPER MERION – Clayton 0-2-0; Zielinski 0-1-0.
OWEN J. ROBERTS – Shrum 2-13, TD; Grimm 1-(-4); DeNardo 1(-5)
UPPER MERION – None.
Interceptions – OJR: Franks.