ROYERSFORD >> The Norristown Eagles and Spring-Ford Rams opened their slate of Pioneer Athletic Conference games in frenzied fashion Friday night at McNelly Stadium. The Eagles gambled with an onside kick to begin the game which paid off in a recovery, but that was one of the only positives for the Eagles in a 50-14 loss to the Rams.
“I told our guys, we don’t have anything to lose. Let’s just go out and play football. We are a young bunch and they know I get a little crazy,” said Norristown head coach Jason Powell. “I told them we were going to go onside kick. It worked out in our favor but overall we have to execute.”
Any “all in” luck the young Eagles hoped to have ended there. On the following play, the Rams’ Matt Booth’s interception set up a 52-yard pass from TJ Pergine to Quinn McKenna. Selwyn Simpson finished the drive with a 2-yard run, the first of his three first half touchdowns.
Norristown struggled with erratic play and high snaps for most of the night. Perhaps, the most costly coming on a 4th and 11 from their own 12-yard line. The mishandled snap gave the Rams the ball on the Eagles’ one-yard line and Simpson capitalized with a short run.
Simpson suffered a left ankle injury in the opening week of the season. Despite limited touches and no second half action, he was pleased to be healthy.
“It was one of my best games,” said the senior back. “The holes were there. I was battling an ankle injury early in the season and I’m finally healthier and able to show it more. My O-line always finds me holes. Today was a little easier especially with my ankle feeling better. I could hit them harder and faster.”
Pergine continued to pick apart the Eagles’ secondary after his 52-yard opening bomb. He hit Stone Scarcelle with time expiring in the first quarter for a 28-yard touchdown to put the Rams ahead 15-0. In the second quarter, Pergine connected with Matt Gibson, who scampered 44 yards for the score.
The Rams led 43-6 at the half. With a running clock for the second half, they cruised to the 50-14 win.
“It was really sloppy in the beginning. What we talked about all week was not being sloppy and part of that was my fault. It’s not how we wanted to come out. We didn’t get settled. We kept our composure and got back to the things we do,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker.
“We knew who their players were,” said Powell. “In the first quarter we had a short field and that’s when we came unglued. I’m happy the kids said hey let’s go play the second half and wipe the slate clean.”
During the week, Brubaker stressed the importance of making better in-game decisions and making fewer mental mistakes, especially at quarterback and on the offensive line.
“We struggled in the beginning of the game to pick up some of their blitzes but they settled down (o-lone). The coaches were able to diagnose what was going on and correct mistakes,” said Brubaker.
The offensive line paved the way for Simpson and Gibson in the first half.
“We have two backs and it kind of depends on how the game goes. Sometimes they alternate drives,” added Brubaker. “We don’t necessarily plan it but it’s how things turned out tonight.”
Justin Defrancesco took over backfield duties in the second half, touching the ball on nine of eleven of the Rams’ snaps. His game was highlighted by a 54-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
For Norristown, sophomore running back Kirk Wilson accounted for most of the Eagles positive yardage with his runs of 16 and 19 yards.
“He’s been working his tail off in the offseason. he’s one of the guys we think will be there especially when he grows,” said Powell. “Even though they are young, they have something they want to play for.”