DOWNINGTOWN >> Perkiomen Valley football coach Scott Reed constantly preaches the importance of seizing momentum in big games.
And Friday night, you would have needed a seismograph to chart all of the crazy momentum shifts in the fourth quarter of the Vikings’ District 1-AAAA Tournament opener against Downingtown East.
In a chaotic final eight minutes at Kottmeyer Stadium, Pioneer Athletic Conference champion Perkiomen Valley and the fifth seeded Cougars traded offensive haymakers, with neither squad refusing to yield.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, a crucial late turnover let momentum slip from their grasp for good in what wound up a heartbreaking — and season-ending — 27-24 defeat.
Seven plays after Justin Cohen recovered an errant pass behind the line of scrimmage at the PV 44 with 1:37 left in a tie game, Drew Brennan booted home a 25-yard field goal as time expired to send Downingtown East (8-3) into next week’s quarterfinal at fourth seed Quakertown (10-1), a 14-10 winner over Pennridge.
The Vikings, who saw a school-record nine-game winning streak snapped, finished 9-2 in excruciating fashion.
After a first half in which PV’s offense seemed stuck in neutral that ended with the Vikings down 10-0, they came firing back in the final two quarters to go up a touchdown on two different occasions, but could never land the knockout blow.
“It was right there in our hands,’ said Perkiomen Valley senior Taiyir Wilson, who turned a simple slant into a 69-yard TD reception that put the Vikings up 24-17 with 5:49 left in the final quarter. “I thought we had it.’
Downingtown East, though, had other ideas.
First, 6-foot-7 tight end Cary Angeline made a nifty sideline grab, pivoted and raced all the way to the end zone for a 58-yard catch-and-run TD on the next play from scrimmage.
Then, after the Vikings moved the chains twice — the second time on Wilson’s 5-yard reception on a fourth-and-1 play — disaster struck.
With PV facing third-and-3 from its own 49, sophomore quarterback Stephen Sturm delivered an overhand toss to the right flat intended for O’Donnell, but it eluded his grasp and Cohen came up with it after a mad scramble in front of the Vikings sideline.
“We were running a lot of curls, and we figured our (outside) guys would drive (the defenders on the edge) off and we’d have a nice perimeter,’ Reed said. “It was just one of those things. We made a lot of plays, but we missed some plays.’
Downingtown East’s Jack Kincade delivered a key 14-yard run on second-and-10 to get the ball to the PV 30, and the Cougars methodically moved it to the 10 to set up Brennan’s game-winner.
“It definitely stings,’ said O’Donnell, whose two-point conversion had put PV up 17-10 with 7:46 remaining in the contest. “We had a great season, being the PAC-10 champs, but we definitely wanted more. We came out thinking we could have owned this game, but it just didn’t happen.’
Early on, Downingtown East appeared to be in firm control, putting together a bruising 16-play, 49-yard scoring drive capped by Andrew Hudson’s 2-yard toss to Angeline midway through the first quarter.
Brennan drilled a 38-yard field goal two plays into the second quarter to put the Cougars up 10-0, and PV didn’t get a first down until Liam Grande hit Jaworski for a 33-yard gain on a fake punt midway through the second period.
But the Vikings were a different squad in the final two quarters. They got on the board when Sturm hit Jaworski (eight catches, 132 yards) for a 39-yard scoring strike four plays into the second half, cut the deficit to 10-9 on Garrett Patla’s 22-yard field goal with 4:16 left in the third quarter and took their first lead when David Williams scored on a 6-yard run before O’Donnell’s successful conversion.
Just as PV could taste victory, however, the Cougars answered right back — as Hudson found Ben Davis for a 57-yard hookup that set up Kincade’s 2-yard TD run that tied it up at 17-17 with 6:35 left as the teams combined for 22 points in a span of 2:19.
Angeline, a junior who has 19 Division 1 offers, finished with 104 receiving yards on seven catches, Keith Conner rushed for a game-high 72 yards and Caleb Fell spearheaded a hard-hitting Cougars defense.
“You know you have two good football teams and winning programs, when one team answers and then the other answers back,’ Reed said. “It just came down to us making one miscue and they took advantage of it.
“It could have easily gone the other way, but that’s the way it goes in sports. Our kids put everything on the line — I am just so proud of our kids and coaches — but unfortunately in this situation we came out on the bottom end.’
“It was a hard-fought game by both teams, and they deserved it,’ said Wilson. “But trust me, you’ll see the Vikings again next year.’
Notes >> PV’s Liam Grande, who battled with Angeline most of the night, collected his area-best sixth interception of the season. … Wilson had six grabs for 131 yards. … Downingtown East head coach Mike Matta was an assistant coach for West Chester University during Reed’s playing days there. Cougars assistant Rick Daniels is a former head coach at WCU as well as Pottstown.
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