Upper Perk quarterback Dylan Wesley fades back to make a pass as Jody Peart swoops in to keep an Upper Merion defenseman from stopping the effort in Friday night's game at home.
As wins go, Upper Perkiomen’s 48-6 victory over visiting Upper Merion was not a glamorous one.
For starters, the two teams combined for 165 yards of penalties as 15 flags were thrown throughout the non-league game. And on the opening kickoff, Upper Merion recovered the onsides attempt to get the ball at midfield. Early in the second quarter, the Tribe fumbled deep in Vikings territory and later turned it over right before the half.
But as rough as things started for Upper Perk, they got a whole lot better as time went on.
Despite the disparity in the outcome, the statistics didn’t tell any signs of a runaway. Both teams racked up 12 first downs apiece, as Upper Perk’s offense turned out 279 total yards compared to Upper Merion’s 258.
The difference came in the big play department. Upper Perk used a blocked punt by Marshall Henry, and returned 10 yards by Matt Beidler, to take a 13-0 halftime lead. And after some unsung work by the ever reliable John Olson (16 carries, 105 yards, 3 TDs), Upper Perk used a 46-yard punt return from Ronnie Gillespie and a fourth-and-goal pass from Dylan Wesley to Dalton Fleming to provide the difference.
Upper Perk’s defense was equally as productive when it came to key plays as well. Fleming, who spent most of his time at linebacker in the Vikings’ backfield, tallied seven of his 14 total tackles for a loss and forced a fumble. Henry helped out with two blocked punts to go along with a pair of sacks, and senior lineman Zach Chatman (10 total tackles) had four tackles for a loss, Jody Peart (four tackles) chipped in with a sack, Beidler recovered a fumble and Devyn Kerr broke up a pass.
Cody Caciolo finished with seven stops as Kyle Fox and Devon Moll both had five tackles apiece.
“Defensively, we just took control,” Fleming said. “Everyone was flowing to the ball, everyone was making their reads all game. We just love to fly to the ball and make plays. Right now, we just need to play with a chip on our shoulder and keep up the momentum.”
Henry, meanwhile, said there’s been no secret to the success of the Indians (5-6).
“We have just been executing the way we’re taught and the way we’ve been practicing,” he said. “We’re where we need to be as a team right now, but we’ve got a big game ahead of us.”
Upper Perk got on the board late in the first quarter as Gillespie dashed for a 32-yard run to the Vikings’ 10, where Olson rushed it in from there one play later.
Henry blocked the next two Upper Merion punts, the latter which was scooped up by Beidler at the 10 for a score that handed the Tribe a 13-0 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Upper Perk’s offense started to click, thanks to scoring runs by Olson of 18 and one yard, respectively, an eight-yard scoring run by Gillespie, nine-yard touchdown from Fleming and Gillespie’s 46-yard punt return to wrap things up.
The Indians will close out the 2011 season at Boyertown on Thanksgiving at 10 a.m. to try to finish the season at .500.
“We didn’t do that great in the first half, but the past two weeks we’ve been consistent,” Upper Perk head coach Keith Leamer said. “The challenge to our kids now is to make it four quarters against Boyertown. I think we’re starting to peak at the right time and hopefully our kids are up to the challenge.”
Upper Merion had two cheerleaders taken by ambulance from the game after a mishap while performing. … Upper Perk’s honorary captains for the game were its chain gang, some of whom have been working the sidelines for 50 years. … Upper Perk presented a check to representatives of St. Luke’s Hospital with a $4,037 check raised from through the school’s first breast cancer awareness game played in October.