ROYERSFORD — The Spring-Ford student section made its presence felt at a jam-packed Coach McNelly Stadium Friday night with chants of This-Is-Our-House!
Thanks to a lights-out effort from the Rams defense, it ended up being a house of horrors for Perkiomen Valley.
Getting an outstanding effort from virtually everyone who saw action on that side of the ball — including standout running back Jarred Jones, of all people — the Spring-Ford ' D' bottled up high-powered Perkiomen Valley throughout a 14-7 victory in an early season showdown of Pioneer Athletic Conference title contenders.
"Everybody played well,' said Rams coach Chad Brubaker, whose squad improved to 1-0 in the league and 2-1 overall. "They wanted this game.'
That was apparent throughout a contest that saw more than its share of gang-tackling, blitzing and bone-crunching hits.
"We gave 120 percent, maybe more,' said Spring-Ford cornerback Joe Bush, whose interception on the first play of the second half set up the go-ahead score. "We played our hearts out.'
It started up front, where nose guard Alec Vagnozzi (two sacks) and tackles Robby Varner and Mason Romano penetrated like drills in Texas dirt.
Linebackers Andy Lovre-Smith, Jake Leahy and Connor Murphy did an excellent job of ensuring the Vikings' bevy of skill people never broke containment — save for Vikings quarterback Rasaan Stewart's 47-yard TD run in the second quarter.
And the secondary of Bush, Jared Shoemaker, Michael Fuhrmeister and Cody Davis (one interception) was nothing short of first-rate.
"It was such a battle to even get a first down,' Perkiomen Valley coach Scott Reed said. "Tonight was all about defense, field position, and ultimately turnovers.'
In a game that saw no less than 13 combined punts, that tone was set early as the Vikings defense opened the game with a three-and-out, while the Rams countered by forcing Stewart into a fourth-down incompletion from the Rams 8 on PV's initial drive.
Stewart, who ran for 124 yards on 24 carries, finally broke the ice with 9:23 let in the first half, when he raced down the right side to put the Vikings (1-1, 2-1) up 7-0.
The Vikings then got the ball right back, but Davis picked off Stewart on a third-and-14 play and the Rams offense finally came to life.
Two plays later, Jones (28 carries, 123 yards) ripped of a 30-yard gain to put the ball on the PV 44. Then freshman quarterback Stone Scarcelle heaved a pass down the left side that appeared to be underthrown, but 6-foot-2, 200-pound wideout Gary Hopkins outleapt Liam Grande at the 20 for it, broke a tackle and raced to the end zone to tie it at 7-7 with 4:40 left in the half.
"We lost the turnover battle,' said Reed, whose squad had three of them to zero for the Rams. "And they took advantage when we turned it over.'
That was the case after Bush's interception gave the Rams the ball at the PV 44 right off the bat in the third quarter.
With versatile playmaker Tate Carter out after suffering a knee injury in the first quarter, Brubaker decided to pound away with Jones — who toted the pigskin for the first five plays (and eight overall) during an 11-play drive capped by Jones' decisive 9-yard scoring run with 6:20 left in the third quarter.
That would prove to be enough for the Spring-Ford defense, which came up with the big play time and time again the rest of the way.
Romano made a big stop to hold Stewart to a 1-yard gain on a third-and-7 from the Rams 44 to force a punt with a little more than two minutes left in the third period.
Then Jones, who was inserted at linebacker, shot the gap to sack Stewart on a third-and-16 play from the Rams 30 to blunt the Vikings early in the fourth quarter.
After an errant punt snap gave Perkiomen Valley a golden opportunity at the Spring-Ford 29, the Rams stiffened again — with Vagnozzi's second-down sack of Stewart forcing a three-and-out and another punt.
The Rams then delivered the coup de grace when Romano forced a Stewart fumble at the Rams 34 that teammate Matt Daywalt recovered with 2:54 left. Zac DeMedio, one of three QBs the Rams used, turned in a nifty 10-yard run on a third-and-8 play that wound up sealing the deal.
"The whole key was how we read their offense,' Vagnozzi said. "We were prepared, and it was a team effort.'
Stewart wound up completing 12 of 28 passes for 95 yards, six of those completions to Dakota Clanagan (64 receiving yards).
"There were times when we got into a rhythm,' Reed said, "but then there were other times we'd get stopped.'
You can chalk that up to a Spring-Ford ' D' that delivered an A-plus effort.
Spring-Ford got a couple of big punt returns (19 and 28 yards) from Brandon Barone. ... Jones also completed a pass, a 10-yarder to Tyliek Freeman, during the Rams' go-ahead drive. ... The PV defense held Spring-Ford to a 3-for-12 passing effort for just 56 yards. ... The Vikings outgained the Rams 257-169.
Perkiomen Valley 7
Perkiomen Valley 0 7 0 0 — 7
Spring-Ford 0 7 7 0 — 14
PV-Stewart 47 run (Genuardi kick)
SF-Hopkins 44 pass from Scarcelle (Gulati kick)
PV-Jones 9 run (Gulati kick)
First Downs 12 8
Rushing yards 162 113
Passing yards 95 56
Total yards 257 169
Passes C-A-I 12-28-2 3-12-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-0
Penalties-Yards 4-20 5-25
Punts-Avg. 6-35.0 7-34.6
Perkiomen Valley: Stewart 21-124, 1 TD; Bonomo 11-38, Clanagan 1-0.
Spring-Ford: Jones 28-123, 1 TD, DeMedio 2-10, Carter 1-5, Fuhrmeister 1-5, Lovre-Smith 1-3, Daywalt 1-0, Scarcelle 1-(-6), Leahy 2-(-9), Team 2-(-18).
Perkiomen Valley: Stewart 12-28-95, 2 INT.
Spring-Ford: Scarcelle 2-10-46, 1 TD; Jones 1-1-10, Daywalt 0-1-0.
Perkiomen Valley: Clanagan 6-64, Bonomo 3-14, Grande 1-12, Domine 1-3, O'Donnell 1-2.
Spring-Ford: Hopkins 1-44, 1 TD; Freeman 1-10, Davis 1-2.
Interceptions: Spring-Ford-Davis, Bush.
Sacks: Perkiomen Valley-Jonassen; Spring-Ford-Vagnozzi 2, Jones, Varner.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.