Owen J. Roberts started strong. Spring-Ford finished stronger.
After the Wildcats scored the game’s first two touchdowns and opened an 11-point lead, the Rams took control in the second quarter and put the clamps down with strong line play on both sides to earn a 37-20 victory at Wildcat Stadium.
Spring-Ford surrendered only one score after the 7:09 mark of the second quarter, running off 34 points of its own in that span.
Sophomore quarterback Matt Zollers (6-for-12, 130 yards, 1 TD) ignited the Rams’ charge with a 44-yard TD pass to Ryan Kerchner. The QB later ran for two TDs. Will Fish powered the run game with 16 carries for 160 yards and a TD.
OJR’s Michael Reed was 12-for-19 for 109 yards and a TD while leading receiver Danny Cashman caught 6 passes for 67 yards.
Owen J. Roberts (3-3, 0-2 PAC Liberty) started the game stoutly on the defensive end, forcing Spring-Ford (4-2, 2-0 PAC Liberty) into an early turnover on downs and holding the offense to a field goal on the Rams’ following drive.
A deep return by returner Danny Cashman on the ensuing kick-off earned the Wildcats positive field position at the 50-yard line and Owen J. Roberts’ offense took advantage of the momentum – albeit in an unexpected fashion. After two short rushes by running back Hunter Rhoads, the Wildcats lined up for a short-yard situation in an attempt to get the two yards needed for a first down. Owen J. Roberts quarterback Reed took the direct snap for a quarterback sneak attempt and torpedoed his way into the trenches, somehow squeezing out of the pile on the other side on his way to a 42-yard touchdown run to give the Wildcats an early lead.
After a blocked point after attempt, momentum continued to trend in Owen J. Roberts’ favor as the Rams coughed up the football on its second play of the drive, setting up the Wildcats deep in Spring-Ford territory thanks to a loose-ball recovery by Carter Hendricks.
Owen J. Roberts would score again on the ensuing possession on a 21-yard circus catch by Derek Hinrichs, who went up for the football with three Spring-Ford defenders in the vicinity and came down with the touchdown to give the Wildcats a 14-3 lead.
“I was happy with a lot of things tonight, but especially defensively in the first half I thought we were very good,” OJR coach Rich Kolka said. “And I thought offensively we did some nice things as well.”
However the Rams regained their composure on the following drive, picking up a chunk of yardage on a 29-yard rush by Will Fish and then finding their way into the end zone on a long 44-yard catch and run from quarterback Matt Zollers to wide receiver Ryan Kerchner.
“We just said, ‘Forget about that, you’ve got to move forward,’” Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. “Football is a crazy sport and sometimes things just happen. That’s just football, but we had to come back and execute on offense.”
A momentum-swinging sack by Luke Pajovich forced the Wildcats into a punting situation deep in their own territory on the following drive and proved a decisive moment in the game.
“We had to be careful because he (Reed) is a good runner too,” Brubaker said of the Rams’ pressure on the quarterback in the win. “He’s multi-dimensional so you can’t just get up field on him. We had to manage that and we picked our spots, we got some pressure with our front four at times and Luke was just all over the field.”
The ensuing snap went sailing over the head of Owen J. Roberts’ punter and landed in the end zone, resulting in a touchdown recovery by Zach Zollers and a 17-14 Spring-Ford advantage heading into the half.
The Rams came out of the break firing on all cylinders, quickly putting another score on the board and taking a 24-14 lead after a short run by Matt Zollers.
“We kind of found ourselves last week in terms of the run game,” Brubaker said. “Tonight we just wanted to run downhill instead of just running zone-read and coming off of the ball.”
However Owen J. Roberts refused to go down without a fight, putting together a long drive on its following possession that ended with a short touchdown pass from Reed to Colin King and cut the Wildcats’ deficit to just one score.
“I was really happy with the fact that we were able to battle back into the game and cut it to 24-20,” Kolka said. “That shows a lot about our character and that’s really what I’m happy about.”
The Rams would score on back-to-back possessions via another short run by Matt Zollers and a 33-yard rumble by Fish that gave Spring-Ford a comfortable 37-20 lead heading into the latter minutes of the game.
Owen J. Roberts 20, Spring-Ford 37
Spring-Ford 3 14 14 6 – 37
Owen J. Roberts 0 14 6 0 – 20
SF – Liam McGarvey 18-yard kick
OJR – Michael Reed 42-yard run (kick fail)
OJR – Derek Hinrichs 21-yard pass from Reed (Reed to Hunter Rhoads 2PC)
SF –Ryan Kerchner 44-yard pass from Matt Zollers (McGarvey kick)
SF – Zach Zollers fumble recovery in endzone (McGarvey kick)
SF – Matt Zollers 1-yard run (McGarvey kick)
OJR – Collin King 5-yards from Reed (2PC fail)
SF – Matt Zollers 16-yard run (McGarvey kick)
SF – Will Fish 33-yard run (kick fail)
First downs 12 9
Rushes-yards 31-252 31-160
Passing yards 130 109
Total yards 382 269
Passes 6-12-130 12-19-109
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1
Spring-Ford: Will Fish 16-160, 1 TD, Mike Bendowski – 8-51, Matt Zollers 5-29, 2 TD’s; Luke Pajovich 1-9, Mason Scott 1-3. Owen J. Roberts: Michael Reed 10-83, 1 TD; Hunter Rhoads 19-63, Derek Hinrichs 1-11, Logan Brower 1-3.
Spring-Ford: Matt Zollers 6-12-130, 1 TD. Owen J. Roberts: Michael Reed – 12-19-109, 1 TD.
Spring-Ford: Ryan Kerchner 2-70, 1 TD; Belal Abdelrahman 2-38, Zach Zollers 2-22, . Owen J. Roberts: Danny Cashman 6-67, Derek Hinrichs 2-35 1 TD, Colin King 2-7, 1 TD; Rhoads 1-0, Justin Daubert 1-0.
Spring-Ford: Zach Zollers, Luke Pajovich, Evan Strzeminski, Franny Undercuffler
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