Zubilaga, Unionville shut out Hornets
EAST NOTTINGHAM >> Neither offense exactly lit up the scoreboard Friday night at Oxford.
The host Hornets were solid, but the visiting Indians were able to reach the end zone twice, as Unionville picked up its second league win of the season in shutting out Oxford, 14-0, in Ches-Mont League American Division action. (1-5, 0-3)
“We just had to stay tough,” said the Indians Trevor Gardiner. “We just had to keep our heads up and play tough. Oxford came at us hard and played tough, but we did what we needed to do when we needed to grind out a win.”
The first quarter ended with the game still scoreless. Both defenses came up with big plays in the period, with each team forcing and recovering a fumble, and both teams making stops on fourth and short.
“Anytime you can hold Unionville to 14 points, your defense has done a nice job,” said Oxford coach Mike Means. “This defense has been getting better and better every week. We just have to get things going on offense.”
Unionville (2-0, 3-3) finally got on the board in the second quarter. It appeared the Hornets might come through with another big stop after Unionville had driven past midfield, but Indians quarterback Joe Zubilaga converted a fourth and three into a 15-yard gain, keeping the drive alive. Jack Adams finally found paydirt, bullying his way for a one-yard score with a little over five minutes remaining in the half.
“Honestly, we killed ourselves in the first half with penalties,” said Zubilaga, who finished the night with 83 yards on 16 carries to go along with 37 yards on 3 for 7 passing. “We might have put up a few more touchdowns had we not been penalized so much. So we just tried to take advantage of the opportunities we got. But we’re still unbeaten in the division, so we’re still the champs until someone beats us.”
Indeed, the flags were flying all night. Unionville finished with 10 penalties for 85 yards, while Oxford was flagged seven times for 50 yards, all in the second half.
The Hornets came out in the second half and began to grind it out themselves. Trailing 7-0 to start the third, the Hornets took the kickoff and took over at their own 10. Oxford proceeded to cover 80 yards on 14 plays — eating up eight minutes to boot — but the drive stalled when a succession of delay of game and false start penalties took them from inside the 10 to a fourth and long near the twenty.
“Those kinds of penalties are on us as coaches,” said Means. “If we’re not getting plays in time, that’s on us.”
Unionville made the stop, and began marching off a drive of its own, highlighted by a 50yard scamper from Zubilaga. The drive ate up the remainder of the third quarter, and three minutes of the fourth, before Adams notched his second score of the game to push the lead to 14-0, this time from 10 yards out.
“That part of the game was a big turning point,” said Indians coach Pat Clark. “They get in and it’s 7-7 and a whole new game. Getting that stop and then turning around and getting a score going the other way was huge for us.”
The Indians return home for homecoming next week, but they have anything but a cupcake opponent set up for the festivities, as they will square off against a high-powered Great Valley team that will be smarting from a stunning loss to West Chester Rustin Friday night.
“We have a very tough schedule,” Clark said. “Mike Means is a tough coach, and the Oxford kids are very comparable to our kids. But that is just going to help us get ready for the big games. As an opposing coach, watching the Great Valley offense is a pleasure. Now we just have to see if we can figure out how to stop it.”
Unionville’s Joe Zubilaga leaves Oxford defenders in his wake Friday night.