BUCKTOWN—The offenses were going to be at a definite disadvantage on a stormy Friday night at Wildcat Stadium and every touchdown was going to be a big one.
And as it turned out, there was only one of them as Phoenixville shut down the Owen J. Roberts offense in a 6-2 Pioneer Athletic Conference crossover win.
Tre Davis ran 38 yards for a touchdown to put the Phantoms (5-4) on top early in the third quarter and the defense did the rest. The Wildcats (6-4) advanced inside the Phoenixville 10 yard line three times in the first half, but their only points came on a safety late in the second quarter.
Avrey Grimm rushed for 90 yards for Owen J. Roberts, which had a team total of just 102 yards in the rainy and windy conditions. Phoenixville gained only 92 yards, including 46 rushing by Davis and 44 on the ground by Owen Koch.
“They came to play,” Phantom coach Anthony Ciarlello said concerning his players. “They put their hard hats on and made the lunch pail plays.”
“Perseverance,” said Davis. “We just needed to keep on going at all times.”
The start of the game was delayed when the power went out at the stadium 10 minutes before the scheduled start. Then the Wildcats had golden opportunities to put the ball in the end zone on three consecutive possessions.
They punted on their first try, but recovered a Phantom fumble on the return at the Phoenixville 26. Grimm snaked his way through the defense for 20 yards – his longest gain of the night – to the four. But the Phantom defense allowed only three yards on three runs by Grimm and the Wildcats fumbled the ball on a 4th-and-1 play.
Then OJR started at the Phoenixville 22 after a short punt and quarterback Michael Reed ran for a first down to the 12 on a 4th-and-3 play. Again, Roberts advanced to the one, but was stopped again on a fourth down play.
Two minutes later, the Wildcats recovered a fumble at the Phantom eight. But a six-yard loss combined with a penalty pushed them back to the 27 and they eventually turned the ball over on downs again at the 14.
“We thought that one touchdown might be the difference in the game,” said Owen J. Roberts coach Rich Kolka. “We had chances. We didn’t score. That would have changed the game, for certain. Losing a couple guys early didn’t help.”
The Wildcats did score shortly after that final lost opportunity when Phoenixville fumbled and the quarterback fell on the loose ball in the end zone for a safety with 3:19 remaining until the half.
But Phoenixville put together a 59-yard drive to start the second half as Koch ran three times for a total of 15 yards and Davis ran for seven and then took a direct snap and burst up the middle for his long touchdown run 2:46 into the third quarter.
OJR punted three times and lost the ball on downs once on its next four possessions and then had one last chance, taking over at its 41 with 3:15 to go. But they came up three yards short at the Phoenixville 30 on a fourth down play and the the visitors ran out the clock.
Grimm ran the ball on 38 of his team’s 53 plays, but was held to two or fewer yards 24 times.
“He’s a great running back,” said Davis, who plays free safety on defense. “Yards on yards. We knew he was going to be a key player. Our defensive line had a great push. We fed off the defensive line today.”
“They did a good job,” said Kolka. “They owned the line of scrimmage when we were on offense.”
The win solidified Phoenixville’s chances for a playoff spot in District 1-5A while hurting the Wildcats’ chances of earning one of the 16 District 1-6A playoff berths.
“We could be out or we could be 12 to 16,” said Kolka.
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