KENNETT SQUARE — Perched at the rear of the backfield, Phoenixville running back Alex Washington didn’t have to pan one way or the other to scan the defense.
With two tight ends and two lead backs in front of him, Washington literally had the whole offensive unit leading the way. Phoenixville employed its “heavy” formation on three drives, Thursday night, and while the first two tries served only as body blows, the finale proved grand.
Washington finished the night with a game-high 119 rushing yards and his touchdown from one yard out in the heavy set with just under six minutes to go was the difference in the Phantoms’ 21-14 non-league road win against Kennett.
“There’s a lot of people in the box,” Washington said of the heavy formation. “It gets a little hectic, but the line performed and my lead blockers performed every time.”
The game was not only played on Thursday due to Kennett’s Mushroom Fest, which begins Friday, but delayed an hour because of lightning in the area.
As a result, both teams started a little sluggish. After a three-and-out on their opening possession, the Phantoms (2-1) went heavy on their second and went 53 yards on 12 plays before turning it over on downs.
Later in the game they used it to get into Kennett (0-3) territory but again the Blue Demons stopped them on fourth-and-short. A fumble the next play gave it right back to Phoenixville, who finally punched one in with Washington five plays later to extend its lead to 14.
“We try to get three-and-a-half, four yards a carry and be physical and milk the clock,” Phoenixville coach Don Grinstead said. “We try to put our guys in good positions and keep the momentum going. When it comes down to it, that’s who we are in the end.”
Kennett showed some resilience in the second half. After a three-carry first half, running back Garrett Cox got fed in the third quarter and he put Kennett on the board with a four-yard score.
On a night where the Blue Demons committed five pre-snap penalties on offense, they finally found rhythm on a nine-play, 89-yards drive. Sophomore quarterback Sam Forte did most of the damage with his legs, and he lunged in for a three-yard touchdown with 30 seconds left to play.
The onsides kick was recovered by the Phantoms and the quest to give new Kennett coach Lance Frazier his first win was thwarted.
“We have a young team and at halftime they were taking it hard,” Frazier said. “When you focus on the negative there’s no way to see the positive. What happened in the second half was we starting playing with some confidence and having fun.”
Kennett couldn’t find a way to get its most explosive player, Mitch Kosara, going. After putting up 200 yards of offense in week two, Kosara had a pair of seven-yard runs on the opening drive but didn’t get another carry and caught just two passes for nine yards the rest of the way.
“It was a timing thing,” Frazier said. “We got the ball to (Kosara) a ton last week, but (Phoenixville) watched the film and made sure we couldn’t attack deep. Number 13 (Washington) is a great defender and made some plays, but it just wasn’t in the cards to get as many targets to Mitch.”
Travis Pannella joined Washington as a 100-yard rusher on the night, and both scored TDs on the ground in the first half. Phoenixville ran the ball 47 times for 242 yards while only attempting six passes.
Kennett will now begin its league slate by hosting West Chester Rustin next Friday.
“It’s the big dogs,” Frazier said.
Phoenixville 21, Kennett 14
Phoenixville 0 14 0 7 – 21
Kennett 0 0 7 7 – 14
PV- Pannella 2 run (kick blocked)
PV- Washington 35 run (Foley pass from Patania)
K- Cox 4 run (R. Forte kick)
PV- Washington 1 run (Clark kick)
K- S. Forte 3 run (R. Forte kick)
First downs 13 11
Yards rushing 47-242 29-141
Yards passing 23 113
Total yards 265 254
Passing 2-6-0 12-19-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-2
Punts-avg. 3-23 5-25.2
Penalties-yds 2-20 8-46
Rushing: Phoenixville — Washington 22-119, 2 TDs; Pannella 14-106, TD; Patania 10-28; team 1-(-1). Kennett — S. Forte 12-72, TD; Cox 12-43, TD; Kosara 2-14; Hughson 3-13.
Passing: Phoenxville — Patania 2-6, 23 yards. Kennett — S. Forte 12-19, 113 yards.
Receivering: Phoenixville — Foley 2-23. Kennett — Cox 6-43; Shacknai 2-40; Hertz 1-15; Kosara 2-9; Ploener 1-6.