RED HILL >> Undefeated Fleetwood hurt itself with penalty after penalty on Friday night, especially on three Upper Perkiomen touchdown drives in the first half. But the Tiger defense shut down the Indians in the second half and Fleetwood scored twice for a 30-20 non-league win at Indian Stadium.
Fleetwood (4-0) was whistled for 15 penalties on the night for 130 yards, but also racked up 406 yards of offense, including 149 rushing yards and a touchdown by Christian Moreno and 133 yards and two scores on the ground by Aidan Kotsch. Hunter Flack threw for two touchdowns and ran for the other for the Indians (1-3).
“That was good for us,” said Tiger coach Sean Gaul, whose team had out-scored its first three opponents by an average of 25 points. “We’ve been riding a little high with some big wins. Upper Perk is a good football team.”
“That’s two weeks in a row we’ve played some tough competition,” said Indian coach Tom Hontz, whose team dropped a 26-0 decision to then undefeated Upper Moreland last week. “I’ve been proud of our effort both weeks. We’ve played tough teams.”
Fleetwood drove 50 yards on six plays on its second possession and took a 7-0 lead on a 24-yard pass from Charlie Maddocks to Tanner Maddocks with 4:43 remaining in the opening quarter.
But the Indians came back with a 55-yard drive, 25 of the yards on penalties, with Flack throwing 17 yards to Andrew Carducci to tie the score with 56 seconds left in the period.
The Tigers countered with a 90-yard drive, the final 41 on a run by Kotsch. But Upper Perk scored on 60 and 54-yard marches, both aided by more Fleetwood infractions. First, Flack threw nine yards to Trey Robinson to tie the score and then scrambled 25 yards to the Fleetwood one and scored two plays later on a sneak for a 20-14 advantage with 30 seconds remaining until the half.
“A lot of personal foul penalties,” said Gaul. “We must have given them 60 or 70 yards on penalties on their three drives. We’ve got to eliminate the stupid stuff.”
But the Tigers, who certainly did not want to end up like the 2008 Fleetwood team that won its first three outings and then lost its last seven, took back the lead for good on the opening drive of the second half.
They quickly moved into scoring range on a 44-yard completion to Moreno and tied the score on a 10-yard run by Moreno. Then an Upper Perk penalty on the extra-point attempt put the ball on the 1 ½ yard line and Fleetwood decided to go for two points instead of kicking it and gave the ball to senior 6-3, 290-pound lineman Alan Snyder, who burst into the end zone for a 22-20 lead.
“Alan’s a four-year starter for us,” said Gaul. “We put the big-guy package in and gave him the football.”
Upper Perk tried to regain the lead, driving from its own 20 to the Tiger 16, but an interception by Tanner Maddocks ended that threat. Then the Indians forced a punt, but fumbled the ball away deep in their own territory and Kotsch ran in from 12 yards out and another two-point conversion made it 30-20 less than a minute into the final quarter.
The Indians produced only 75 yards of offense in the second half and also fumbled the ball on the kickoff after falling behind 30-20 and punted and lost the ball on downs the rest of the way.
“I challenged them … no more points in the second half,” Gaul said concerning his halftime talk with his team.
Fleetwood, which scored 10 points in the fourth quarter for a 24-21 win over the Indians last season, finished with 276 yards rushing.
“When our offense is clicking, it’s tough to stop,” said Gaul. “Upper Perk did a good job on our passing game.”
The Indians wound up with 175 total yards, only 57 on 37 rushing attempts and 118 on 15-for-24 passing by Flack.
“He’s a bright, very athletic kid,” Hontz said concerning his junior quarterback. “We told him to protect the ball the best you can. We’ve got a lot of injuries. Our first two running backs are injured. We’re pretty far down on the depth chart. We battled. I can’t ask for much more than that.”