Garnet Valley Wins In Dramatic Fashion
Last year the Garnet Valley Jaguars went undefeated in the regular season and were crowned Central League champions. It was also the Jaguars first year in class AAAA, moving up from AAA. In the playoffs, Garnet Valley won their first two games and lost to Neshaminy in the District I semifinal. The Jaguars finished the year with a record of 12-1. This year the Jaguars are back, hoping to repeat what they accomplished in the regular season and more.
As for the Unionville Indians last year was an average season in the Ches-Mont League. The Indians finished the year winning six games out of ten and did not make the playoffs. They did end the regular season winning four games out of their last six. This year the Indians’ senior running back Greg Carroll looks to carry the Indians to another winning season and playoffs beyond.
To open up the 2009 football season these two teams played at Unionville. Garnet Valley and Unionville have really become a big rivalry. The Jaguars and Indians have played each other several times in the past years, both in the regular season and playoffs. Head coach of Unionville Pat Clark said, “It’s a huge neighborhood rivalry. It goes back to the Southern Chester County League when we played Garnet Valley and we were competing for the league championship. It’s a great rivalry, so we know it is going to be a good football game.”
With a full house at Unionville and both student sections filled with excited fans, the Jaguars and Indians were ready to kick off the 2009 season. Garnet Valley’s defense was stellar early on in the game. On Unionville’s first possession on third and six Unionville’s quarterback, Connor Gades, was sacked by Jaguars’ Eric Warden. On their second series, Unionville couldn’t get a pass off and gave the Jaguars the ball after a turnover on downs.
After a couple of long gains by senior running back Marcellus Irving, the Jaguars were primed for a touchdown. The Jaguars fumbled, but recovered the ball and had to settle for a 25 yard field goal by senior Dan Acchione. Jags took a 3-0 lead into the second quarter.
In the second quarter the Jaguars’ offense took advantage of a fumble recovery by Eric Warden. Senior quarterback Mark McHugh dropped back and found a wide open receiver, Justin Pyle, for a 23 yard touchdown reception. With the extra point blocked the score was 9-0 going into halftime.
The second half started in Unionville’s favor. Mason Popham ran the kickoff back for a 90 yard touchdown, which cut the Jaguars lead to only two points, 9-7.
After Unionville’s starting quarterback Connor Gades was injured, senior Greg Carroll took over. The Indians continued to threaten to score again and once near the goal line Greg Carroll handed the ball off to Brittingham for a three yard touchdown run. That score gave the Indians a 14 to 9 lead after Grimes kicked the extra point.
Unionville started controlling the game, rushing for first downs one after another. They seemed to have all the momentum. Then after a big sack by Jeremy Irving the Indians had to punt. The Jaguars started on their own four yard line, and with only just over five minutes to go the seniors showed their experience.
Mark McHugh started converting on third downs by throwing to Ryan Woods, along with Marcellus Irving rushing the ball. The Jaguars got as close as the 13 yard line and now it was fourth and six. With the full moon shining on the field and everyone holding their breath McHugh took the snap, looked right to left, and rolled out to the right side just nearing the sideline. He threw the ball into the right corner of the end zone and found Marcellus Irving for the score the Jaguars needed. The touchdown gave the Jaguars a 15-14 win!
It was a long 5:22, 96 yard drive for the Jaguars’ offense and for Mark McHugh who couldn’t have started the season better. McHugh said, “I dropped back, looked around and saw no one was open so I bailed right. I was running and I threw it to Irving for the touchdown when I noticed his man came up. The offensive line did a great job on that play; they added so much protection I was just sitting back there forever.”
Head coach of Garnet Valley Mike Ricci talked about the winning drive, “That last drive was huge! One of the things I think we have an advantage of over a lot of teams is our ability to play guys both ways. Our conditioning comes into play and enables us to make some big plays down there at the end.”
Next week Garnet Valley stays on the road and travels to play Haverford, while the Indians travel to Phoenixville.
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