BUCKTOWN — With the Owen J. Roberts and Phoenixville football teams each looking for their first win of the season Friday afternoon, a game of inches and feet came down to one untimed play to decide the winner.
Owen J. Roberts' Kyle Hinrichs came down with Mitch Bradford's final-play pass just inches out of bounds on the side of the end zone, enabling Phoenixville to escape with a 19-15 victory and its first victory of the season.
The result of a strange incidence of intentional grounding with no time left on the clock, the play capped a see-saw game in which the Wildcats looked in control much of the game but the Phantoms made plays and stops when necessary to hold on.
"The kids fought hard,' said Phoenixville coach Bill Furlong. "We made some mistakes and we fought hard and we have some kids still learning. I was proud that they just found a way at the end.'
Phoenixville trailed 15-12 late in the third quarter when the defense managed to force an Owen J. Roberts turnover on downs with just minutes left in the game. With the ball on the Phoenixville 36, two rushes yielded only 2 net yards before Phantoms quarterback Kyle Karkoska uncorked a high flying pass to Mackensie Thomas for a 62-yard touchdown.
"We got them. We caught them on one,' said Karkoska, who finished the day 4-for-6 with 116 passing yards and two touchdowns.
After Alex Wertman drilled the extra point, the Wildcats got the ball on their own 38 but couldn't move the ball on four straight incompletion by Bradford.
The Phantoms secondary did their share to force the four-and-out.
"I think we have a great secondary,' Karkoska said, crediting his defense for keeping the Phantoms in the game.
Bradford was held to 53 yards passing on four completions in 12 attempts, which included a pass which was cleanly picked off by Phoenixville's Donnie Jackson.
When Bradford and the Wildcats offense couldn't move the ball, the Phantoms got it back with just over a minute left in the game.
However, they couldn't secure a first down and wound the clock down to about seven seconds on 4th down.
In the next play, to finish out the clock, Karkoska took the snap and ran straight back toward his end zone before curving to his own sideline.
After the horn announcing the clock had run out, Karkoska appeared to believe he was out of bounds and tossed the ball forward and toward the ground.
Officials called the play intentional grounding and gave Owen J. Roberts the ball at the Phoenixville 23-yard line.
With no time remaining, Bradford heaved the ball in a Hail Mary to Hinrichs but the receiver came down with his back foot out of bounds first.
"We played pretty well. It just boils down to situations, third-and-long, fourth-and-long, they have to be on their toes, alert,' Owen J. Roberts coach Tom Barr. "We just did some dumb things on defense at crucial times and Phoenixville capitalized on that.'
Despite being down for much of the third and fourth quarters, Karkoska said he and his teammates felt they could pull out their first win of the season.
"We knew we could come back,' Karkoska said. "We worked really hard all week and knew we could win in the second half.'
"We've got to take this win and build from it. We made some mistakes and we have to improve our consistency,' Furlong said. "You get a little discouraged sometimes and I think they have a reason to smile.'
Barr said his team has to learn from this defeat, but a bright spot was Wyatt Scott, OJR's workhouse tailback.
Scott rushed 31 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns along with scoring on a sweep in a two-point conversion.
"He's a tough kid. He works hard in the offseason. It's hard to bring him down,' Barr said. "He has great determination and great courage.'
As the Wildcats seek their first win moving forward, Barr said his young offensive line needs to jell and work together better. He also said they'll continue to work with Bradford, who is only a sophomore.
"We've just got to keep harping on the good things and correcting the bad things and moving forward,' Barr said. "We've just got to keep working hard.'
Perkiomen Valley 15
Phoenixville 0 6 6 7 — 19
Owen J. Roberts 0 7 8 0 — 15
OJR- Scott 12 run (Dinnocenti kick)
PX- McDougal 2 run (kick no good)
PX- Jackson 15 pass from Karkoska (2 pt. conversion failed)
OJR- Scott 13 run (Scott 2 pt. conversion run)
PX- Thomas 62 pass from Karkoska (Wertman kick)
First Downs 12 16
Rushing yards 115 205
Passing yards 116 53
Total yards 231 258
Passes C-A-I 4-6-0 4-12-1
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-0
Penalties-Yards 8-40 9-90
Punts-Avg. 3-20.6 2-37
Phoenixville: Karkoska 13-41; McDougal 9-32, TD; Beasley 6-31; Raniszewski 6-11; Palubisnky 5-9; Jackson 6--9.
Owen J. Roberts: Scott 31-142, 2 TDs; Bradford 5-67; Scherfel 1--3; Reitnour 1--3.
Phoenixville: Karkoska 4-6-116, 2 TDs.
Owen J. Roberts: Bradford 4-12-53 1 INT.
Phoenixville: Thomas 1-62, TD; Gallow 2-39; Jackson 1-15, TD.
Owen J. Roberts: Hinrichs 3-29; Marks 1-24.
Sacks: Owen. J. Roberts-Reitnour, Kinckner, Myers, Scherfel.
Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.