REIFFTON — One week after it won by the largest margin of victory in program history, Boyertown found itself on the opposite side of the spectrum in Week 2.
Fresh off a 61-0 win over Upper Perkiomen, the Bears fell behind 37-0 against Exeter on Friday night and were unable to recover, ultimately losing to the Eagles 37-21 in a non-league game.
“It’s gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows,” Boyertown coach Justin Konnick said. “They kept us on our toes and they beat us up front.”
Exeter (2-0) took control of the game early with a big special teams play in the first quarter, as Jovan Hollis blocked a Boyertown punt from deep in Bears’ territory. The ball bounced out the back of the end zone, giving the Eagles the safety and a 2-0 lead.
“It was definitely a momentum swing for us,” Exeter coach Matt Bauer said. “It definitely swung the momentum in our favor and we never relinquished it.”
The Eagles controlled the rest of the first half, relying on explosive plays to move the ball. On the first possession following the safety, quarterback Mason Rotelli found tight end Zack Zandier for a 30-yard touchdown to make it 6-0.
“We have a lot of weapons,” Bauer said. “Zack Zandier is coming into his own.”
On the ensuing point-after attempt, holder Carter Redding frantically scooped up the bad snap and rolled to his left, before lofting the ball across the field to a wide-open Richie Karstien for a successful two-point conversion. The Eagles were 1-for-2 on two-point conversions — both of which were unplanned — in the game.
Exeter made it 16-0 less than five minutes later, as Karstien, a running back, plunged into the end zone from three yards out. The senior ran the ball with authority all night long, accumulating 89 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
“He ran hard,” Bauer said about Karstien. “He’s a tough kid to bring down. He wears people out as the game goes on.”
The Eagles found the end zone again less than three minutes later, as Rotelli found tight end Joey Schlaffer for a 46-yard touchdown. The Penn State commit finished with three catches for 59 yards and the score.
“Joey is a matchup nightmare no matter where you stick him,” Bauer said.
Exeter’s final touchdown of the half came from the arm of Rotelli once again, as the senior found wide receiver Carter Redding for a 15-yard touchdown. The touchdown capped a stout performance for Rotelli, who completed 6-of-9 passes for 135 yards and three touchdowns.
“He did a great job last week, and he did an even better job this week,” Bauer said. “He protected the football, he made good decisions, and he managed the game for us very effectively. Our offensive line has done a great job of protecting Mason.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles dominated in the first half, forcing two interceptions and stifling the Bears’ running attack. Boyertown finished the first half with no completed passes and just two first downs.
“We got beat up front,” Konnick said. “Their defensive line and linebackers played phenomenal.”
The Eagles scored their final touchdown of the game early in the second half, as Karstien smashed his way into the end zone to make it 37-0 following the extra point. Exeter finished with 126 rushing yards.
With the mercy-rule running clock in effect, Boyertown began to move the ball in the second half. The Bears ended the shutout late in the third quarter, as fullback Cole Yesavage broke through the Eagles’ front seven on his way to a 29-yard touchdown.
“I have to prepare the kids to make the first punch,” Konnick said. “If they would have played (in the first half) like they did in the second half and came out right away, that would have been a different story.”
Boyertown (1-1) scored again on its next possession, as quarterback Ryder Gehris found running back Anthony Famularo for a 32-yard touchdown to make it 37-13. The ensuing point-after attempt was no good.
“They came out and fought,” Konnick said about his team in the second half. “They punched back, and I’m proud of them for that.”
Yesavage scored the final touchdown of the game for the Bears, which made it 37-21 following a successful two-point conversion run from running back Jason Oakes. Boyertown had 10 first downs and 67 yards passing in the second half against a plethora of Exeter reserves, a stark improvement from the first 24 minutes of play.
“I’m very happy with the way they responded,” Konnick said. “We can compete.”
Boyertown’s big second half was powered by Yesavage, as he accounted for 152 of the Bears’ 213 yards of total offense in the game. On the ground, he finished with 19 carries for 129 yards and the pair of touchdowns.
“Yesavage is a workhorse,” Konnick said. “He’s ready every time.”