Eagles blank Upper Perk in final non-league tune-up

By on September 20, 2017
Cocalico’s Devon Fichtorn (right) raises the ball after blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown in the first quarter of Friday’s game vs.Upper Perkiomen. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Cocalico’s Devon Fichtorn (right) raises the ball after blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown in the first quarter of Friday’s game vs.Upper Perkiomen. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Cocalico’s defense spent a lot of time on the field in the first half of Friday’s non-league game at home vs. Upper Perkiomen.

True, the Indians did put together a few time-consuming first-half drives which didn’t result in points but ate up a lot of the clock. But the Eagles’ offense had to accept some of the blame.

They were simply scoring too fast.

Cocalico ran just 12 offensive plays in the first half, resulting in just 3:36 in possession time, but put up 35 points. Then in the third quarter, with the Mercy Rule kicked in, the Eagles added three more scores on a pair of one-play drives and a two-play possession.

It all added up to a 56-0 whitewash of the Indians (2-2) as the Eagles, who defeated highly-regarded Governor Mifflin one week earlier, closed out the non-league portion of their schedule at a perfect 3-0.

While on the surface this was a dominant performance by his troops, Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich said his team wasn’t quite as crisp as it was one week earlier against Mifflin.

“Tonight we just didn’t seem to play with the same emotion, and maybe that’s a hangover from the Governor Mifflin game,” Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich said. “I can promise you we will not have a hangover next week.”

Gingrich stated moving forward, things will only get tougher as his squad gets set to venture into Section Two play.

“I think we have a nice team and we show signs of having a very good team,” he said. “But right now I wouldn’t call us a very good team. Right now, I’d call us a 3-0 team that has plenty to work on. I’m happy that we are 3-0 and I’m happy that we are doing some good things but there will be plenty of nit-picking this week that we got to fix.”

Friday night, Cocalico took a quick 7-0 lead at the 10:02 minute mark of the first when Devon Fichtorn came off the edge and blocked an Indians’ punt and recovered it in the end zone for the score.

That play set the stage for the quick-strike Eagle offense, which scored on all four of its first-half possessions.

A 39-yard connection between quarterback Noah Palm and Ronald Zahm made it 14-0 after one quarter. Then in the second, Austin Landers went 71 yards for a score, Owen Zimmerman scored on a six-yard run before Palm tossed his second TD of the half, hooking up with Garrett Longenecker for a 31-yard touchdown pass.

“Our offense has been playing pretty well,” Gingrich said. “I think we got a good offensive line, I think our quarterback makes good decisions and the guys on the perimeter, whether they are slot backs or wideouts, they block. If they are not getting the ball, they’re doing a good job of blocking. Those guys are very unselfish and that results in big plays.”

In between those quick scores, however, Upper Perk held the ball with drives of 15 plays, 14 plays and seven plays, which didn’t exactly please the head coach.

“The defense has done a good job but we just couldn’t get off the field tonight,” he said. “Again, I’m going to give (Upper Perkiomen) some credit. I think they have a good offensive line, I think their skill guys are pretty good and they have good schemes. But for whatever reason we’d have a couple plays and then we’d give up a couple plays so I think our consistency is what I’m most concerned with. We got to fix that.”

Leading 35-0 at the half, Cocalico put it out of reach in the third as Landers broke off a 65-yard touchdown run, Adin Frey took it in from 26 yards out and Cody Shay closed out the scoring with a 51-yard TD run.

For the game, Palm went 4-for-5 through the air for 114 yards and two scores. The Cocalico rush attack gained 273 yards on just 18 carries with Landers leading the way with 136 yards from his two long scores.

The Eagle defense, despite at times not being able to get off the field, bent but did not break en route to their first shutout of the season, setting the stage for Friday’s huge Section Two opener at fellow unbeaten E-town.

“It won’t be easy from here on out,” Gingrich stated. “From here on out it will get a heck of a lot tougher, starting Friday against E-town. We’ve had some big plays, and you can’t always count on big plays. The blocked punts don’t always happen, one-play drives don’t always happen…I thought defensively, we didn’t do a very good job tonight. They had the ball 20 minutes and we had the ball basically four minutes, so we got some things we got to fix. Am I happy with where we are at? Yeah, I’m happy with where we are at. But there still is plenty to work on.”

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