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Phoenixville football tops Upper Merion, raises playoff hopes

KING OF PRUSSIA >> They were talking playoffs Friday.

It didn’t matter that the current season is only five weeks old, and divisional play in the Pioneer Athletic Conference was just getting underway. Both Phoenixville head coach Anthony Ciarlello and his Upper Merion counterpart, Chubb Davis, approached their Frontier lid-lifter as a significant outing in the big postseason picture.

“We treated it as a playoff game,” Ciarlello said. “I couldn’t say enough about it.”

He found plenty to rave about after seeing his Phantoms pull out a 27-20 win over the Vikings. It was a gut check for Phoenixville, which saw UM pull even late in the fourth quarter – that after leading the game from the first – but responded with big special teams play down the stretch to leave its hosts short of fulfillment.

The Phantoms (3-2) set the early tone with quarterback Talon Romance and Ahmid Spivey collaborating on touchdown passes in the first half. Running back Sam Moore offered a strong complement to the offense with 123 ground yards and a rushing score in the third.
But Spivey added the special teams spark after the Vikes tied things up with about 6½ minutes to play. Fielding UM’s kickoff at the Phantom 45, he ran the ball to the end zone for what ended up being the deciding score in this hard-fought contest.

“I don’t normally play on the kickoff teams,” Spivey said. “They put me in, so I had to make a difference. I just trusted my guys and broke away.”

Stung by that occurrence, the Vikings (2-3) got another stinger on the subsequent kickoff. Phoenixville’s Kevin Kingsbury secured the ball at the UM 48, setting up the visitors for a clock-eating drive that kept the ball out of the home team’s hands until close to the two-minute mark.

“We’ve been very good on kickoff coverage,” Chubb noted. “I made the call, but the ball went to the guy we didn’t want to have get the ball.”

The Phoenixville defense got the final spotlight when Myles Tenbroeck intercepted Viking signal-caller Zayd Etheridge at the 1:37 mark. The Phantoms then ran the clock out to complete their leg-up move in the Frontier ranks.

“This will spark us in PAC play,” Moore said. “Upper Merion is one tough team, so starting out with a win will make a difference.”
Ciarlello credited a good part of his team’s success to the line, admitting he has put pressure on them to perform.
“The line showed up and did their work,” he said. “They showed up in the weight room since December, and they did their work.”

Speaking for the guys in the trenches, co-captain Danny Aselton lauded his mates’ play and game preparations.

“Coming into the game, we knew we were going to face big kids,” he said. “We worked too hard in the off-season to not win.”

Romance went 8-for-13 in the passing game, amassing 87 yards. Spivey ended up his main target, catching three passes for 27 yards, and Deacon Williams had the longest connection, 38 yards to the Merion nine prior to Moore’s TD run.

Darius Watson chipped into the Phantom running game with 65 yards on nine totes.

For UM, Etheridge went 10-for-18 for 125 yards. His scoring toss to Nolan Clayton covered six yards, and he found Michael Scavello at the end of a 13-yard toss.

Etheridge also had a 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.

“Zayd gave us a steady game … a valiant effort,” Chubb said. “I’m proud of everything Nolan does for us. Offensively, I would say this was one of our better efforts.”

It was encouraging enough for the Viking grid boss to remain confident his squad can impact the Frontier picture, the opening loss notwithstanding.

“I think we still have a shot at the Frontier,” he said. “There could be a three-way tie. The team isn’t going to stop. They proved that tonight.”

For Phoenixville, the win puts it on a high level of momentum as it continues divisional play next week against Pottstown.

“This was a big win for us … a confidence booster,” Aselton said.

NOTES

At halftime, Upper Merion recognized its 2002 team and its distinction of reaching the District 1 championship game. It ended up falling to Strath Haven in the game. Both teams ended up punting once, with four non-scoring series ending either on downs or turnovers.

[event_results 43436 site_id=”2″]

SCORING

First Quarter
Px-Spivey 6 pass from Romance (Sposato kick), 7:02
Second Quarter
UMe-Clayton 6 pass from Etheridge (Palladino kick), 6:50
Px-Spivey 20 pass from Romance (Sposato kick), 0:25
Third Quarter
Px-Moore 20 run (kick failed), 5:12
UMe-Etheridge 1 run (Palladino kick), 1:00
Fourth Quarter
UMe-Scavcello 13 pass from Etheridge (kick failed), 6:35
Px-Spivey 55 kickoff return (Sposato kick), 6:23

TEAM STATISTICS
Px UMe
First downs 18 13
Rushing yards 190 134
Passing yards 79 129
Total yards 269 263
Passes C-A-I 8-13-0 10-18-1
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 5-55 5-45
Punts-Avg, 1-28.0 1-25.0

[event_performance 43436 site_id=”2″]

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