Spring-Ford tops Ex­eter in OT, 33-27

The Phoenix - - SPORTS - By Tucker Ba­gley

ROYERSFORD » Ex­eter coach Matt Bauer came into Fri­day night’s game at Spring-Ford with an ag­gres­sive mind­set. His Ea­gles blitzed and played with no deep safeties for much of the game as they took the host­ing Rams down to the wire.

But even­tu­ally, Bauer’s ag­gres­sive­ness back­fired.

“I should’ve went for the field goal,” the coach ad­mit­ted min­utes af­ter Spring-Ford de­feated Ex­eter, 33-27 in over­time, in a game that couldn’t be set­tled in just four quar­ters of foot­ball. “I told my kids, we can put this loss on me.”

Af­ter Spring-Ford won the over­time coin toss, the Rams elected to play de­fense, set­ting up Ex­eter with four plays to score from just 10 yards out. The Ea­gles pushed the ball to the 1-yard-line on a pair of runs by Jeremiah Nixon and a pass to Matt Feeney. But in­stead of tak­ing the chip-shot field goal, Bauer trot­ted his of­fense out there on fourth down and Spring-Ford stuffed Nixon to end the pos­ses­sion.

“I cer­tainly agree with his call,” Rams head coach Chad Brubaker said. “They were killing us with the run all night, so it wasn’t a long­shot for them to punch it in there.”

Brubaker’s of­fense won the game three plays later when quar­ter­back Ryan En­gro sneaked the ball in from one­yard out for his fifth touch­down of the night.

How­ever, things didn’t start well for the Ram of­fense, as Spring-Ford was flagged for a false start be­fore their first play from scrim­mage and Ryan En­gro was sacked on the next snap. Buried in a sec­ond-and-19 hole, En­gro lofted a ball deep down the side­line to Blaize Scar­celle, who snuck be­hind the Ea­gle de­fense and caught the pass for a 33-yard gain.

From there, the Rams were off to the races. Half­back Stephen Brill ripped off a 23yard run and En­gro ended the drive with a 1-yard touch­down pass to tight end Noah Baker for the game’s first score.

“We knew they were go­ing to play a real ag­gres­sive style of de­fense,” Brubaker said. “We couldn’t run the ball when they had all the ex­tra men in the box, so we had to pro­tect our quar­ter­back and hope our re­ceivers could beat their man cov­er­age.”

Spring-Ford had a chance to ex­tend their lead later in the first quar­ter af­ter an En­gro pooch punt pinned the Ea­gles in­side their own 1-yard­line. How­ever, af­ter three un­suc­cess­ful runs, Ex­eter’s punt was muffed by the Rams and the Ea­gles re­cov­ered at mid­field.

A 14-yard run by Jeremiah Nixon then put the Ea­gles at the Spring-Ford 32, but three plays later, Ex­eter was fac­ing a fourth-and-10. How­ever, quar­ter­back Kolby Haag hit Feeney over the mid­dle and a vi­cious block by Joe Rohrbach sprung the tight end for the ty­ing score.

If there was any doubt their first scor­ing drive was a re­sult of good for­tune, the Ea­gles took over at their own 1-yard-line again on their next pos­ses­sion and pro­ceeded to march 89 yards on 15 plays to set up a 27-yard, Sean Henry field goal that gave Ex­eter their first lead of the game.

It took the Rams just two plays to re­spond as En­gro hit Baker on a slant, and the tight end beat the Ea­gles cover-zero de­fense, rac­ing to the end zone for a 62-yard score that put the Rams in front, 14-10. Baker fin­ished the night with four catches for 81 yards and three touch­downs.

“Noah is a bas­ket­ball player,” Brubaker said. “At least in his mind, he is. I think he is a good ex­am­ple of some­one who can suc­ceed at mul­ti­ple sports and help dif­fer­ent teams win.”

But once again, Ex­eter had an an­swer. The Ea­gles put to­gether an­other me­thod­i­cal drive, with the 8-play, 80-yard pos­ses­sion high­lighted by a 38-yard pass to De­von Scott and punc­tu­ated by a 5-yard fade to Rohrbach for the goa­head score and a 17-14 half­time lead.

The Ea­gles seemed to be on their way to post­ing a twopos­ses­sion lead in the open­ing min­utes of the sec­ond half, but a botched snap de­railed their mo­men­tum and led to a missed 43-yard field goal at­tempt.

Spring-Ford took ad­van­tage of the over-eager Ea­gles de­fense in the sec­ond quar­ter, rack­ing up 144 pass­ing yards on their two drives, but more im­por­tantly, the Rams scored 13 points on pass­ing touch­downs to Baker and Dante Bo­nanni to take a 27-17 lead into the fourth quar­ter.

The Ea­gles turned the ball over on downs on their next drive, but climbed within one pos­ses­sion when Javier Austin in­ter­cepted En­gro and re­turned the ball 10 yards for a touch­down.

Gavin Mc­Cusker, who took over for the in­jured Haag in the third quar­ter, led the Ea­gles down the field in the clos­ing min­utes in an at­tempt to even the score. Ex­eter tied the game at 27 with just sec­onds re­main­ing in the fourth quar­ter thanks to a 41-yard field goal by Sean Henry.

“It was hard for our guys in the fourth quar­ter,” Brubaker said. “We we’re strug­gling run­ning the ball and con­trol­ling the clock against the stacked box. It led to us hav­ing to throw the ball in hopes of mov­ing the chains and keep­ing pos­ses­sion.”

The Spring-Ford of­fense lived and died by the long ball on Fri­day night, with En­gro fin­ish­ing the night with 314 pass­ing yards, de­spite com­plet­ing only 16 of his 41 at­tempts. On the flip side, Ex­eter clawed their way back into the game thanks to a dom­i­nant sec­ond half by Nixon, who had 176 yards from scrim­mage.

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