Backup Zu­bil­laga saves the day for the In­di­ans

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jeff Kerr For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia @jef­f_k­err on Twit­ter

EAST MARL­BOR­OUGH >> Joe Zu­bil­laga hasn’t played quar­ter­back since his flag foot­ball days at Unionville.

The way he lined up un­der cen­ter for the In­di­ans Fri­day night, one would think he started at the po­si­tion for three years.

In­stead, Zu­bil­laga was on in re­lief of starter Alex Gor­gone, who ex­ited the game in the sec­ond quar­ter with an arm in­jury.

“I just kind of winged it,” Zu­bil­laga said.”Coach (Pat) Clark just told me ‘next man up.’ I had to fill in and do what’s best for the team.”

Zu­bil­laga did more than “fill in” in re­lief for Gor­gone as he ig­nited Unionville to a 14-0 win over West Ch­ester Rustin in the Ches-Mont Amer­i­can Di­vi­sion opener for both teams.

Zu­bil­laga fin­ished with 10 car­ries for 68 yards and com­pleted his only pass of the night for a touch­down, a nine-yard toss to Ai­den Boyle in the back corner of the end zone that put the In­di­ans (1-0, 2-2) up two scores with 7:06 left in the third quar­ter.

“We were run­ning the ball re­ally well and with Joe (at quar­ter­back), ev­ery­thing he gets has a chance to get on the edge,” said Unionville head coach Pat Clark. “(Ai­den) Boyle made a great move to get open on a lit­tle in-and-out route. Joe put the ball on the money.”

“Ai­den and I are great friends,” Zu­bil­laga said. “I knew he was go­ing to come down with that. I just had to throw it up there.”

With Unionville hold­ing on to a 7-0 lead once Zu­bil­laga en­tered the game, the dy­nam­ics of the of­fense changed. The In­di­ans had a dual-threat at quar­ter­back, sim­i­lar to the days of Tom Pan­coast four years ago.

“I try to rep­re­sent my game like Tom,” Zu­bil­laga said. “I just loved the way he played. It was all down­hill and pound with him.”

Zu­bil­laga used that down­hill and pound style two plays prior to his touch­down pass with a 27-yard run on 3rd-and-6 to ex­tend Unionville’s open­ing drive of the sec­ond half. He capped his big night with an in­ter­cep­tion to stall the Golden Knights (0-1, 0-4) best drive of the sec­ond half, seal­ing the game for Unionville with 1:32 re­main­ing in the game.

“Joe is one of our most com­pet­i­tive kids in any sport,” Clark said. “I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to coach him in two sports. The kids ral­lied be­hind him. We’re lucky to have him tonight.”

Unionville had the de­cid­ing score on its open­ing drive as Jack Adams reached his arm out on a 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line to put the In­di­ans up 7-0. De­spite the early deficit, Rustin had plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to tie the game up.

The Golden Knights had two fum­bles deep in Unionville ter­ri­tory that would have at least re­sulted in two field goals. On Rustin’s first drive of the game, a hold­ing penalty as­sisted a missed 32-yard field goal by Cole Gal­lagher with 2:32 left in the first quar­ter to keep the In­di­ans up 7-0.

Rustin has been dec­i­mated by in­juries this sea­son as star run­ning back Ty Pringle missed the game. Backup run­ning back Nick Benoit suf­fered an in­jury in the third quar­ter and did not carry the foot­ball the rest of the game while Mylek Dur­nell also missed por­tions of the con­test with a sec­ond-half in­jury.

Rustin fin­ished with four turnovers in the loss, which led to Unionville’s shutout. The In­di­ans held them to 206 yards on the night.

“Our guys take a lot of pride in their de­fense,” Clark said. “We’re very for­tu­nate to have three se­nior lineback­ers who are two, three year starters. We had five de­fen­sive line­man play­ing four spots and were able to muck up the run a bit.

“When you can put Rustin in the pass­ing downs, that’s a vic­tory for the de­fense.”

Unionville has re­bounded from an 0-2 start to take the early lead in the Ches-Mont Amer­i­can. The In­di­ans aren’t go­ing any­where any­time soon.

“When we were 0-2, every­one thought we were down,” Zu­bil­laga said. “We stayed up, kept our poise and were ready for every­one that came in our way.”

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE

Joe Zu­bil­laga, right, played quar­ter­back for the first time Fri­day night and helped Unionville shut out West Ch­ester Rustin.

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