By: Jeremy Park
The Quakertown Panthers made the trip to Moe DeFrank Stadium on Friday night looking for a battle between scores, which was to be expected. The Panthers have boasted an offense comparable in skill to Garnet Valley’s, led by QB Will Steich, RB Tyler Woodman, and WR Zach Fondl, who have helped QTown average 39 points/game this year. They put up exactly that in the 4 quarters, but gave up 58 in their first loss of the season. They put up an amazing fight, and the saying, “They had us in the first half, not gonna lie” held true for the Jags until the back half of the game. This was easily the most electric game of the season for Garnet Valley, with a little help from Quakertown’s student section. Making noise and waving their white towels, they flooded the away stands and forced multiple timeouts and delay of game penalties for GV. Their noise, however, quieted as the night ended, as Garnet Valley pulled away and put the game out of reach. Let’s dive into what happened for both teams on Friday night…
Two of the best offenses in the district failed to score on their first possessions, Quakertown the first with a 15-yard punt, and then Garnet Valley on an unsuccessful fake punt. The Panthers were the first to give the scoreboard a new look with a 1-yard TD run from RB John Eatherton. Garnet Valley shockingly ended the first quarter with 0 points, but started the next off with a 1-yard TD run from Shane Reynolds. The Panthers punted on the next possession, and junior Drew Van Horn broke 5 tackles to get to the GV 45-yard line for a 20-yard return. RB Ryan Saunders gave the Jags the lead on a diving effort with help from textbook blocking from the offensive line (Nash, Sorokanych, DiTrolio, Brennan, Mahoney). Quakertown evened the score with another TD from John Eatherton, this time a pitch from 13 yards out. Ryan Saunders took the lead back with a 49-yard TD catch on a perfect pass from Max Busenkell. The PAT blocked, and Garnet Valley would finish the first half with 20 points. Tyler Woodman got a taste of the endzone on an 11-yard TD catch with 13 seconds left in the half to give Quakertown a 1 point lead. Garnet Valley got the ball back but turned it over immediately on a lateral attempt-turned-fumble that gave Quakertown a field goal to extend their lead to 24-20 going into the half.
Garnet Valley couldn’t have opened the second half better, with a 65-yard TD run from Shane Reynolds. An offsides penalty against Quakertown on the PAT gave the Jags a shot at a 2-point conversion, which they capitalized on (Busenkell QB sneak). MLB Drew Jackalous hauled in an interception on QT’s next possession to give GV the ball right back, which led to Shane Reynolds running in his 3rd touchdown of the night to extend the lead to 34-24. The Panthers blocked another PAT to keep the margin at 10. The Jags racked up another interception on Will Steich, this time from Max Busenkell, to keep Quakertown away from the endzone. In what is a definite candidate for play of the game, if not automatic favorite, Shane Reynolds took a pitch, lowered his shoulder, and trucked Quakertown’s John Eatherton on a 40-yard run to the Quakertown 20. Junior RB Joe Checchio took it home from 20 yards out to get GV to 40 points. Another 2-point conversion attempt was successful (Joey Halloran reception), and the third quarter ended with 24 points for Garnet Valley and 0 for Quakertown.
Quakertown WR Zach Fondl found the endzone on a 20-yard pass to chip away at GV’s lead. They got the ball back on an interception but turned it over yet again on a failed 4th down conversion. The Jags made up for their previous turnover with a 69-yard touchdown pass from Busenkell to Halloran. The 2-point conversion went right back to Halloran to make the lead 50-31. John Eatherton scored Quakertown’s final points of the season on a 52-yard TD catch. Garnet Valley on the other hand, wasn’t done. A 44-yard TD run by, you guessed it, Shane Reynolds, along with a 2-point conversion from him gave the Jags a 58-39 lead with 5:11 remaining. Another interception by Drew Jackalous sealed Quakertown’s fate, and the Jaguars offense finished the game in victory formation.
Quakertown had nothing to complain about from their performance, but Garnet Valley simply was the better team. The Panthers highly effective offense pushed Garnet Valley to put up the most points since away at Ridley during the regular season. Quakertown’s Will Steich threw for 325 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. He had a variety of weapons in Zach Fondl, John Eatherton, and Tyler Woodman, who were involved in every touchdown Quakertown scored. Garnet Valley’s defensive line was able to apply pressure on almost every snap, which helped create plays like both of Drew Jackalous’ interceptions.
The Jaguars offense was unstoppable, per usual. Shane Reynolds continued his playoff dominance, with 245 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns. Max Busenkell also had his best throwing game so far this playoffs, his favorite targets being Ryan Saunders and Joey Halloran.
Quakertown’s playoff run is over but they will finish the season against Pennridge for Thanksgiving football. Garnet Valley moves to 13-0 and will get a long-awaited rematch with Coatesville in the District Championship game next Friday at the Moe. GO JAGS!