RED HILL — Boyertown quarterback Lawrence Garnett was down to his last opportunity.
Facing a possible demotion after a lackluster performance in the team’s loss to Exeter last week, head coach George Parkinson informed the junior that another poor performance would send him to the bench.
On Friday night, Garnett’s job security was reaffirmed as he torched the Upper Perkiomen secondary, throwing for 160 yards on 12 of 14 passing while running for 68 yards and two scores in Boyertown’s 29-15 victory over the Indians at Indians Stadium.
“He showed tonight what we thought he had all along,’ Parkinson said. “We told him ‘ Lawrence, this is it, this is your last opportunity,’ and we meant it. If he didn’t come through we were going to pull him and make (Evan) Gianneti our starter.
“He took it to heart. His practice was great all week. He showed leadership, he was accurate, he was aggressive. He did a great job in practice and it showed in practice tonight.’
Garnett rebounded from a 2-for-6, 14-yard performance in last week’s demoralizing 28-0 loss. Justin Siejk, battling a 103 degree fever, hauled in six catches for 101 yards, including a 43-yard score that put the Bears up 22-15 early in the fourth quarter.
Dan Heller added 63 yards on the ground on three carries, his last carry being the backbreaker as he scored from 14 yards out to give the Bears the deciding margin.
“We did well, we’ve just got to keep it up and do better each week,’ Garnett said. “Tonight I just wanted to prove myself to my team that I could do what I needed to do.’
As Garnett proved his value to Parkinson and his Bears team, Upper Perkiomen head coach Tom Hontz was glad his team turned the page after a lopsided defeat to Quakertown last Friday.
Somky Akpanonu finished the game with 46 yards on 15 carries and one score while Zeke Hallman finished the game with 102 yards passing including a 27-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Stokes that put the Tribe up 15-14 in the second quarter.
“We said after the Quakertown game that we had to turn the page,’ Hontz said. “For us, we wanted to come out here and execute, and play tough and be scrappy. That’s what we did. I think we’re going to win some football games.
“The difference between our play was night and day. We were flying around the ball tonight, we were hustling. It’s just disappointing that we ran out of gas, they beat us on a couple of passes.’
Hontz’s defense had their foot on the pedal early as Stokes pounced on a Boyertown fumble on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage.
With the ball at the Boyertown 27, the Indians mounted a four-play, 21-yard drive, culminated by a Akpanonu one-yard plunge, giving the Tribe an 8-0 lead.
“Scoring that first touchdown gave us a little juice, a little adrenaline,’ Hontz said.
The Bears were fired up as well.
Boyertown turned the tide in its favor as Garnett led the Bears to two consecutive scoring drives, capping off both drives with one-yard and two-yard runs, respectively.
Not to be outdone, Upper Perkiomen’s Hallman connected with Stokes on the aforementioned 27-yard score before the score remained stagnant at 15-14 entering the half.
The tide turned in the second half.
The Bears defense clamped down, forcing the Indians to punt on their only possession of the third quarter before Garnett and Siejk connected for the momentum-swinger.
Facing a second-and-12 on the Upper Perkiomen 43-yard line, Garnett threw up a jump ball down the right sideline. Siejk, blanketed by the Upper Perkiomen corner, wrestled away the ball with a hand in his face and then ran 20 yards to paydirt. Garnett converted the two-point conversion off a quarterback draw for the 22-15 lead.
“I had all the faith in the world that Lawrence could get me that ball,’ Siejk said. “I had a few of those earlier in the game and I was determined to get that one.’
“At first, it was hard for me to see because I was way across the sideline, I wasn’t sure if he had it or not because he was covered real good,’ Parkinson said of the catch. “It was a great turning point, and that was huge for us.’
Following an Indians three-and-out, Hallman ran for the back-breaking 14-yard score.
“We were trying to wear them down but we got a little worn down ourselves in the fourth quarter,’ Hontz said. “Hopefully Upper Perk’s fans are proud that they saw us compete at least.’
Boyertown senior captain D.J. Stahl was carted off the field in the first quarter. “We pray the he gets better,’ Garnett said. “We wanted to win it for him.’ Boyertown lost three fumbles and racked up 85 penalty yards. “We definitely have to work on the penalties and the fumbles,’ Parkinson said.