Owen J. Roberts started practice this week with a feeling that it hadn’t had all season.
The Wildcats won their first four contests, starting each new week with a positive feeling from the weekend before. This week, OJR was coming off a heartbreaking loss to Perkiomen Valley, its first loss of the season.
“That was the message all week,” OJR coach Rich Kolka said. “That feeling that we had last Friday night was one that we wanted to try and deny. That’s kind of a motivational factor, going into tonight’s game.”
The Wildcats fell behind Friday against a Boyertown team that showed it can be dangerous in last week’s win over Methacton. After being denied on its first offensive drive, Owen J. Roberts rebounded with four touchdowns on its next four drives to take control in a 35-3 win over the Bears.
OJR senior Josh Jackson ran 20 times for 170 yards and two scores, while senior quarterback Cooper Chamberlain totaled 222 rushing and passing yards and two touchdowns (one passing and one rushing).
“For us it was honestly redemption, fighting for respect in the league,” said OJR junior Dante Denardo, who had an interception and a touchdown grab in the game. “It motivated us very hard feeling that.
“Coming up just short at the end of the game of beating a three-time PAC champ, it motivated us a lot. We have a good group of guys that are very focused on our goal this year.”
— Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue) September 28, 2019
Jackson ran in a three-yard score with 2:16 left in the first quarter to put the Wildcats ahead 7-3. After Boyertown fumbled the ensuing kickoff, he broke off a 44-yard touchdown run, swinging momentum completely in OJR’s favor and putting the Wildcats ahead 13-3 with 1:51 left in the first quarter.
Chamberlain ran in a 27-yard keeper, set up by a 37-yard completion to Boston Follis, and hit Denardo on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 3.6 seconds left in the half to cap a 10-play, 79-yard drive after a fourth down stop by the OJR defense and give the Wildcats a 26-3 halftime advantage.
In his first year as the Wildcats’ lead back, Jackson averaged fewer than 45 yards per game through the first three weeks of the season. He’s now gone for 130-or-more yards in two of his past three contests as he continues to climb near the top of the area’s rushing leaders.
“I want to get as many touchdowns as possible, as many yards as I can,” Jackson said. “That’s my main goal. And just to keep moving my feet.
“I’m watching all these old guys on YouTube and stuff, Barry Sanders, even Saquon Barkley. I’m just trying to pick up some little things off them. I’m trying to find holes, and then just explode. I try to be as explosive as possible.”
The tough running of the 5-foot-4, 126-pound back, who wrestles at the 113-pound weight class for the Wildcats’ wrestling team in the winter, has drawn the admiration of his teammates.
“It’s amazing to watch,” Denardo said. “It’s always funny how it takes eight guys to bring him down because he’s just that tough. He definitely has that wrestler mentality in him. He’s the toughest kid we all know. He’s the toughest kid on the team by far.”
Boyertown totaled nearly 450 yards rushing in a 40-6 win over Methacton last week, including a 209-yard, four-touchdown performance from senior running back Jamison Moccia and 128 yards rushing and two touchdowns from quarterback Mason Marinello in his first start this season.
The Bears moved the ball early on Friday, pushing the ball 46 yards for a Declan Coyle 34-yard field goal on their first offensive drive of the game to go up 3-0.
Following the fumbled kickoff, Boyertown’s next two drives ended on fourth down stops in OJR’s half of the field, including a 13-play, 59-yard drive near the end of the first half that before OJR’s last-second touchdown drive.
Moccia led the Bears with 88 yards rushing, 73 of which came in the first half. Marinello finished behind him with 53 yards rushing to go along with 41 yards passing.
“That’s a good team,” Boyertown coach T.J. Miller said of OJR. “They didn’t give us anything that we didn’t expect. They just did what they do better than we did what we do.
“They stopped us on a couple key downs early. We drove the ball on them early, but then their offensive attack kind of set us back on our offensive side once we dug a big hole.”
Denardo said the Bears’ triple option offense has some similarities to Daniel Boone, which OJR played in the second week of the season. In preparation for Boyertown’s rushing attack, the Wildcats’ scout team offense practiced without a ball as the defense worked on reading its keys. An emphasis was for each player to do their job.
It worked as the Wildcats held the Bears to 11 first downs and 219 total yards of offense. They also forced three turnovers, which included a fumble recovery and interceptions from Denardo and Jon Hannevig, who picked off his area-leading fourth pass of the season.
“We prepped all week, practiced very hard, very disciplined,” Denardo said. “We just manned up, honestly. They had some big guys, but it didn’t matter to us. We don’t care about them. Heart is our strength, and we just came out to hit them.”
The Wildcats hope last week’s loss to PV can be a rallying cry for the rest of the season. After last week’s win against Methacton, Friday night was part of the growing process for an inexperienced Boyertown team.
“We’re still young and that’s part of our learning process. We’re still learning how to win and how to take over a game. It takes more than just one time like last week to do it. It’s going to take a couple times to win and take over a game. We just didn’t do that yet.”
Notes >> Hannevig scored OJR’s final touchdown on a fumble recovery after Jackson fumbled into the air at the one-yard line and Hannevig snatched it and ran it in for the score. The Wildcats final points came on a safety after a bad Boyertown snap on a punt into the end zone … OJR kicker Olivia Kqira kicked her second extra point of the season after Hannevig’s touchdown.