Football: 'Special' delivery sparks Perkiomen Valley in comeback win over Pottstown

By DAVE KURTZ

pac-10sports.com

 

GRATERFORD – Perkiomen Valley received a 'special' delivery Friday night at rain-swept Thomas J. Keenan Stadium.

The unexpected package – a 29-21 Pioneer Athletic Conference victory over Pottstown – came via one of the most undervalued and overlooked areas in football, special teams play.

Kyle Chudoba booted three field goals and Ryan Boyd ripped off a trio of long returns – including a tide-turning 76-yard bolt to the house after the Vikings had fallen behind 21-0 in the first quarter - to key a run of 29 unanswered points and lift PV to 2-0 in the PAC-10.

“You’ve gotta coach up the special teams,” said PV coach Scott Reed. “Ryan’s huge return sparked us, and for us to execute three field goals in that slop was something else. A lot of the credit goes to our long snapper Mike Reiner and holder Ryan D’Ambrosio, and what can you say about Chudoba. It’s unusual to have a kicker be your MVP of the game, but he pretty much was.”

While much of the credit goes to Chudoba’s talented right foot and Boyd’s slick, quick instincts in the open field, there’s no downplaying the reclamation job turned in by the PV defense. The Vikings were torched early, but recovered after allowing 21 quick points in the opening 9:29.

How complete was the defensive turnaround? The Trojans were held to zero first downs and minus 19 yards of total offense in an abysmal second half that was lowlighted by three turnovers.

“We have no excuses,” said Pottstown coach Brett Myers. “This was not about ability or heart or hard work. It was about focus.”

The Trojans’ focus was crystal-clear in the early going. Malik Brinkley got it started when he took an option pitch left for 21 yards and a touchdown at the end of an impressive 11-play, 75-yard drive. Pottstown followed up that score with a 50-yard sprint to the end zone by Monroe Hampton and a 49-yard Sage Reinhart TD pass to Corey Baker for a 21-0 lead with 2:31 still left in the first quarter.

But that’s when Boyd stepped in and swung the pendulum of momentum back the Vikings way with his 76-yard kickoff return.

“I was a little ticked off, I had gotten beat on the post (by Baker),” said Boyd, who added an interception to seal the deal in the fourth quarter. “I wanted to redeem myself, and there was one way for me to do it.”

Boyd’s one-way trip to paydirt was followed by PV quarterback Rasaan Stewart’s 54-yard touchdown run with 4:41 left in the second quarter. The Vikings’ offense was gaining traction in the murky conditions, and the Trojans were bogging down. Chudoba’s 25-yard field goal on the final play of the first half drew PV within 21-16.

“Rock (Stewart) just pulled through and took it to the end zone,” said Reed. “That was a big play. The (Pottstown) snowball was rolling downhill (at the start), we slowed it down and stopped it.”

Boyd returned the second-half kickoff 54 yards to give PV good field position in a drive that eventually stalled at the Pottstown 17, but then took a punt 20 yards to set up Chudoba’s 30-yard field goal through the pelting rain.

The Vikings got the ball back late in the third quarter when David Forrest recovered a Trojans fumble at the Pottstown 15, and Chudoba drilled another three-pointer from 30 yards out to put PV on top 22-21 with 11:14 remaining.

“We kept good field position, and that made a big difference,” said Reed, whose club had five second-half possessions that started inside the Pottstown 31. “We made some defensive adjustments in the second half, had our outside (line)backers line up differently.”

The ploy closed off the outside lanes that Pottstown had exploited in the early part of the game. The quickly degenerating field conditions also slowed the greyhound-fast Trojans to a crawl.

Myers wasn’t buying any of it.

“We didn’t get through four quarters and we reverted back to old form.” said Myers, whose explosive club was held to 194 yards of total offense. “Our special teams were poor and that’s on me. I set up the game plan and I set the personnel. We'll need to get it fixed.

“We scored 21 points but the offense wasn’t very good after that. We just didn’t move the football.”

Chudoba’s 50-yard punt with 4:23 remaining pinned the inert Trojans into a corner at their own 6-yard line, and Pottstown promptly fumbled the ball away.

Three plays later, Steve Giampa burrowed into the end zone from three yards out for a 29-21 PV lead. Pottstown got the ball back at its own 15 with 1:56 remaining, but Reinhart was picked off by Boyd and the Vikings were singing in the rain moments later.

“This win shows what kind of heart we have,” said Boyd. “We fell behind and we were the underdog, but nobody was hanging their head. We knew the whole time what we had.”