Upper Perk Head Coach Keith Leamer has a word with players during a time out in Thursdays game. The contest was Leamer's final as head coach of the Indians.
Those who stayed around to witness the very end of last Thursday’s 44-21 Boyertown victory likely forgot just how close the game actually was.
A game with a whopping 26 combined penalties for 269 yards and four ejections will tend to do that. In what was likely the last Thanksgiving Day meeting between Upper Perkiomen and the Bears, the Indians fought back from a two-score lead only to watch the hosts rip off three unanswered scores in a matter of six minutes.
Upper Perk literally went down swinging as the Tribe was hit with a slew of personal fouls and subsequent ejections. The game was actually called by officials before time expired after the last personal foul was assessed.
It marred an otherwise positive and prolific eight-year coaching stint for Upper Perk head coach Leamer, who announced his resignation earlier in the season.
“This was not the way we wanted to go out,” Leamer said after the game. “The game was just a microcosm of our entire season, we played very well at times, but then we relaxed. I was happy with the way we fought back to tie it up.”
As bad as things got for the Indians in the end, they took control from the very first play. On that first play, senior Cody Caciolo picked off a surprising pass from the usually run-happy Bears on their own 15-yard line.
John Olson (23 carries, 109 yards, 2 TDs) did the rest from there as he took three straight handoffs to put Upper Perk ahead a little over a minute into the contest. Olson actually finished with 109 yards of Upper Perk’s total 102 rushing yards in one of his trademark, no-frills but productive outings.
Boyertown matched Olson’s score with a Jon Neiman touchdown after the first of Upper Perk’s many subsequent personal fouls three minutes later.
The Indians (3-6, 5-7 overall) looked like they would go ahead late in the first quarter as they drove to the Bears’ 2-yard line after some solid defense and receptions from Devyn Kerr (four catches, 29 yards) and Ronnie Gillespie (six catches, 92 yards, TD). But the Indians coughed up the ball in one of its three turnovers on the day.
Another missed opportunity came early in the second as Upper Perk converted on a fourth-and-third play on the Boyertown 25 on a gritty run and catch from Dylan Wesley (14 of 29, 166 yards, TD, INT) to Gillespie. The play went the distance but was called back for an offsides penalty against the Tribe.
Boyertown used the momentum shift as it scored on an 80-yard pass from Griffin Pasik to Jared Von Dohren to go ahead, 14-7.
“We had a chance to get up on them big early, and we didn’t,” said Leamer. “You’ve got to finish. This was a game of two evenly matched teams, and anytime you give life to a team you will have problems and that was our undoing.”
Boyertown (3-6, 6-6) used a pair of Upper Perk personal fouls to set up its next score on their next offensive touch to take a 21-7 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Upper Perk recovered Boyertown’s onsides kick attempt and made it hurt as Gillespie raced for a 44-yard score on a pass from Wesley. Robert Brett came up with a clutch interception on the Indians’ ensuing defensive series, which paved the way for Olson’s 38-yard romp to tie things up, 21-21, with 6:13 left in the third.
And that’s when the wheels fell off the bus for the Indians.
After trading punts for the better part of the fourth quarter, Boyertown went ahead after a steady diet of Max Marcus (31 carries, 169 yards, 3 TDs), who scored from 14 yards out. Upper Perk couldn’t convert on a fourth-and-2 in Bears territory as a Boyertown interception led to another score, as did a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.
“We played well, then we relaxed, then we come back,” Leamer said. “We haven’t played a complete game all year. We stopped tackling and executing there in the fourth quarter.”
NOTES: Upper Perk’s defense was led by nine tackles apiece from Zach Chatman (tackle for a loss) and Marshall Henry. Caciolo finished with eight tackles to go along with a tackle for a loss. Dalton Fleming made seven stops at linebacker, as did Kyle Fox in the secondary. Nick Kozrad had six tackles at cornerback, Jesse Freer made five at safety, as Bradley Heckler (four tackles) and Jody Peart (four tackles, one for a loss) also played solid. Brett had a tackle for a loss to go along with his pick, as Kerr also broke up a pass.
Upper Perk – Boyertown Thanksgiving Day Results
2000 27-6 B
2001 13-0 B
2002 12-7 B
2003 41-7 B
2004 19-0 B
2005 17-7 UP
2006 7-0 B
2007 44-14 UP
2008 16-14 B
2009 24-17 UP
2010 55-27 B
2011 41-21 B