LOWER POTTSGROVE – This one was about more than just football.
Hours after the passing of his father, running back Jack Fallows and his Marple Newtown teammates knew there was only one thing they could do.
“We’ve talked all season about team, community, Tiger pride,” said Marple Newtown head coach Chris Gicking. “That took a whole new meaning this (Friday) morning. We came here for one reason — to dedicate this game to Joe.”
With heavy hearts Friday night, the Tigers rallied, defeating Pottsgrove, 20-7 at Pottsgrove’s Rick Pennypacker Field, earning the program’s first District 1-AAA win.
“The kids did a great job of coming together and getting this win,” added Gicking. “Pottsgrove is a really good football team, so we knew this would be a battle coming in. I’m really happy about the way we executed.”
With the win, the Tigers advance to face No. 2 seeded Upper Moreland (33-6 winners over Pottstown) next Friday night.
The Falcons’ defense kept the Tigers in check, forcing four three-and-outs and a fumble recovery. But Pottsgrove struggled on offense, turning the ball over five times including four interceptions.
“They’re a good football team,” said head coach Rick Pennypacker of Marple Newtown, “but you can’t turn the ball over that many times and expect to win a playoff game. That’s just the way it is. This is definitely a loss that will sting.”
Marple Newtown quarterback Anthony Paoletti racked up 173 yards through the air completing 9-of-16 passes for two touchdowns.
The only way Paoletti knew how to honor his teammate’s father was with a win.
“It was an awesome win, especially for Jack,” said Paoletti. “We came out here and did this for him. He was our biggest fan. He was always the one watching us from the sideline and cheering us on. He would have been proud to see this one.”
Tyler Kostack was on the receiving end of a 31-yard touchdown pass on 3rd and 17 midway through the second quarter while Abel Hoff racked up 101 yards on five carries including a 59-yard touchdown.
On the ground, Hoff racked up 49 rushing yards on eight carries while freshman Marlon Weathers had 36 yards on 11 carries. Fallows ran it five times for 14 yards.
On defense, Marcus Weathers came up with two interceptions while Tyler Kostack and Gino DiCamillo each had one. Noah Turner had two sacks while Kyle Kelly finished with one.
Pottsgrove’s offense totaled 279 yards of total offense.
Running back Tyrell Barr carried it 11 times for 53 yards while Wyatt Porter carried it six times for 69 yards and the Falcons’ lone score.
Deyon Doctor completed six of his 12 passing attempts for 71 yards while adding 41 rushing yards. Max Stump reeled in four catches for 65 yards.
As the season comes to a close, Pennypacker credits his team for dealing with adversity all season.
“We’ve got a lot of heart, a lot of class on our sideline,” said Pennypacker. “From injuries, to illnesses, these guys have battled and fought all year. Most of our seniors fought through at least one injury during the season. It wasn’t what we were expecting this season, but I’m proud of the way the kids fought.”
As Marple Newtown advances to the second round of the district playoffs, the Tigers are still taking it all in.
“Eventually it will sink in,” said Gicking. “Everyone is still kind of thinking about Joe and getting our heads around it all. Right now, we’re going to enjoy this win and start to get ready for next week’s game.”
NOTES >> On the final play of the game, Fallows carried it for four yards to run out the clock. … Jake Adams had two sacks while Tyler Smith had one. … Junior quarterback Ryan Finn completed his only pass attempt to Stump for 26 yards.