The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS -

first snap of the quar­ter 34 yards for a touch­down and a 7-0 lead.

That touch­down run rep­re­sented the only scor­ing of the game for the first three quar­ters, de­spite some big plays by Up­per Me­rion (3-1, 5-3). How­ever, de­spite out­gain­ing the Fal­cons in the first half, the Vik­ings just couldn’t stay out of their own way, com­mit­ting 8 of­fen­sive penal­ties.

“Penal­ties have been our big­gest is­sue all year,” Up­per Me­rion sec­ond-year coach Vic­tor Brown said. “A lot of our guys are still learn­ing and they are think­ing too much on each play. We need to just re­lax and play foot­ball the way we know how.”

Up­per Me­rion had a lot of suc­cess with screen passes early in the game, pick­ing up gains of 13 and 38 yards, but the Vik­ings strug­gled to hold on to the ball, throw­ing 3 in­ter­cep­tions and also los­ing one fum­ble.

“Our de­fense has been forc­ing turnovers all year,” Hawthorne ex­plained. “We’re a big-play de­fense. We will cer­tainly give up some big plays and yards, but we’re also go­ing to be ag­gres­sive and take the ball away too.”

The big­gest play of the game came early in the fourth quar­ter when Up­per Me­rion was down 10-0 and hold­ing the ball at their own 19-yard-line. Quar­ter­back Dale Clay­ton rolled out to his right and found Marc Clay­ton down the side­line for an 81-yard touch­down that brought the home team within just three.

“That play re­ally sparked things for us,” Brown said. “We were strug­gling of­fen­sively and to get that score, then a three-and-out on the next drive. We had all the mo­men­tum at one point, but we just couldn’t take ad­van­tage of it.”

In­deed, an in­ten­tional ground­ing penalty stopped the Vik­ings next drive in its tracks and on the en­su­ing Potts­grove pos­ses­sion, an en­croach­ment penalty on third-and-4 ex­tended the Fal­cons drive. On the very next play, Isa­iah Tay­lor scam­pered 39 yards around the left end for a touch­down to seal the vic­tory.

“It was just a coun­ter­trap play,” Hawthorne ex­plained. “It was nice to see once we sprung [Tay­lor] loose. We were close to hit­ting on it a few times, but we fi­nally got a big gain thanks to a big block by Nate Tor­netta.”

Tay­lor fin­ished the game with 94 rush­ing yards on 26 car­ries and Sisko added 88 rush­ing yards of his own. The Up­per Me­rion of­fense was led by Marc Clay­ton, who caught 4 passes for 103 yards and the Vik­ings lone touch­down. Ahmed Stone had 8 catches for 69 yards and also nabbed an in­ter­cep­tion on the de­fen­sive side of the ball. Jay­den Tucker had two in­ter­cep­tions for Potts­grove.

De­spite the loss, 2018 still rep­re­sented a year of growth for the Up­per Me­rion Vik­ings. Since join­ing the PAC in 2016, they only man­aged to pick up three con­fer­ence wins be­fore rac­ing out to a 3-0 start this year.

“There are no moral vic­to­ries, but we still mea­sure growth,” Brown said. “I’m very proud of how far our play­ers have come in these past two years and they know we’re still build­ing. You can see our guys are buy­ing in to our pro­gram and we know this is the start of some­thing good.”

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