Junior Aidan Schaffer takes off with the ball for a big gain in the final home game of the season against Phoenixville. Schaffer rushed 16 times for 249 yards and a score.
For two quarters, Upper Perk’s football team gave visiting Phoenixville everything it could handle.
In that first half, the Phantoms (5-2, 6-3), who came into the game as District 1-AAA’s seventh seed, scored on two out of its first three possessions. Upper Perk (0-8, 0-9), which trailed by two scores in the first quarter, cut that deficit in half in the second frame as the offense capped off an 80-yard drive that took nearly four minutes.
The march included a fourth-down conversion and ended when Travis Kline pulled down a pass from quarterback Dylan Wesley and raced 64 yards to the end zone.
Unfortunately for the Tribe, the highlights slowed down considerably from there as the Phantoms ripped off 29 unanswered points to cruise to a 49-20 Pioneer Athletic Conference victory on Upper Perk’s Senior Night.
“We played well in the first half, but in the second half we just started to fall apart,” Upper Perk head coach Steve Moyer said. “But the kids played hard in the first half, in the second half you could see we started to run out of gas as some of our kids got cramps and we were forced to put some young guys on the field.”
One constant in both the first and second half was the play of running back Aidan Schaffer. The junior turned in his most productive game of the season as he rushed 16 times for 249 yards and a score. Schaffer eclipsed the 100-yard mark on his third carry after runs of 73, 2 and 55 yards. He later added a 76-yard touchdown in the third quarter on a counter and sat out the bulk of the fourth quarter with calf cramps. In the process, Schaffer went over 1,000 yards on the season as he came into the game with 789 yards.
That type of effort was one that didn’t go unnoticed by Phoenixville head coach Bill Furlong.
“Our defense had some nice plays, a couple of times we didn’t but that’s a credit to coach Moyer and Upper Perk,” Furlong said. “They’re fighters and scrappy, we didn’t expect them to give up after watching film of them and they certainly didn’t tonight.”
Phoenixville took control of the game in the second half as a bad snap on a punt put the ball on Upper Perk’s 9-yard line. The Phantoms ended up punching it in from there before Schaffer ripped off his 76-yard score with over nine minutes left in the third quarter.
From there, though, Phoenixville pulled away, scoring on a 32-yard reverse, and runs from 24, 1 and 21 yards. That flurry was enough to turn a one-score game at half into a 42-13 Phantoms advantage with five minutes left in regulation.
Upper Perk did close the gap later in the game as Kline pulled in a 21-yard fade in the end zone from Wesley.
Kline finished with his best outing as he caught three passes for 103 yards, two of them going the distance. Wesley was 10 of 21 yards for 170 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of picks. He now stands at 840 passing yards for the year heading into Saturday’s season finale at Pope John Paul II.
Upper Perk will look for its first victory against the Golden Panthers in a match-up of two squads looking for their first win. Pope John Paul II has been reeling all season from a slew of injuries but have been competitive and are coming off a 28-21 loss to Boyertown last Friday night.
PJP likes to air it out (its leading rusher Alex Valeri has only amassed 192 yards this season) as the team features the third and fourth top receivers in the league. Quarterback Matt Mesaros, who has started only part of the year after a season-ending injury to James Bleming, has eclipsed 1,000 passing yards. His favorite targets are Chris Veisbergs (27 catches, 540 yards, 6 TDs) and Tim Tadros (18 catches, 431 yards, 4 TDs).
“We have one more chance to put it together,” Moyer said. “We’ve got one more shot at it.”