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Pergine, DeFrancesco dominant in Rams’ win over Exeter

By Rob Senior

 Before Friday’s game, Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker stressed the importance of strong play from his senior quarterback, TJ Pergine, in the Rams’ chances for success this season.
It’s safe to say Brubaker’s pleased with the immediate results.
Pergine came out on fire Friday night, throwing for three first-half touchdowns, while senior running back Justin DeFrancesco ran for 251 yards. When all was said and done, the Rams had a convincing 45-21 win over previously undefeated Exeter.
“He’s been playing at a high level-stats don’t always tell the story for (Pergine),” said Brubaker. “But tonight I felt we did an all-around tremendous job.”
“(Coach Brubaker) is the key to our success,” Pergine said. “Since Week 1 and even during the summer, he’s had us in the weight room, keeps us working hard, and he believes in us. Everything starts with Coach.”
Early on, the Rams wasted no time getting on the board with a 31-yard field goal from Taylor Smith. After a 20-yard TD run by Exeter’s Nick Sarangoulis (who ran for 182 yards on the night), Pergine took to the air, finding sophomore Ryan Engro for an 8-yard score that gave Spring-Ford a lead they would not relinquish.
Senior Tyler Edwards cranked up the highlight reel early in the second quarter with a one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone to extend the lead. After Justin DeFrancesco ran in from a yard out to make it 24-7 Rams, the young — but rapidly improving — Spring-Ford defense forced a quick Exeter three-and-out to give the offense the ball back with two minutes left before the half.
Pergine and company immediately went to work, as the quarterback broke a 46-yard run deep into Exeter territory. On first and goal, Pergine pump-faked a quick out and found a wide-open Colby Goldsmith for a 31-7 halftime lead.
The otherwise entertaining first half was marred by 15 total penalties — 10 on the home team from Exeter, who struggled to sustain drives. Multiple first-half possessions came to an abrupt halt in the red zone, with penalties the main culprit.
Aside from the standout performance on the ground from Sarangoulis, Exeter QB Brandon Unterkoefler added 99 yards on the ground.
After halftime, the Rams quickly put the game out of reach. On a third-and-13 from the Spring-Ford 7, DeFrancesco took a draw untouched 93 yards to the house to make it a 38-7 lead. He wasn’t done, however, adding an 87-yarder later in the quarter.
“I can’t take much credit — the holes I ran through were huge,” said DeFrancesco. “Happy to get the win, and the long runs, but the credit goes to the guys up front.”
In all the Rams compiled 524 yards of total offense before pulling the starters with four minutes left in the 3rd quarter, leading 45-7. Unterkoefler added two late scores for Exeter to tighten the final margin, but the Rams got on the bus back to Royersford with a 2-2 record — and a confident leader in Brubaker.
“We had a sour taste in our mouths from last week (a 28-21 setback against Wilson), and I told the kids to be angry about that, and use it as fuel to improve,” Brubaker said.
“I feel like we did just that tonight.”

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Spring-Ford leaves no doubt against Exeter

By Beth Hudson

Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker and his football team walked away from a seven-point loss to Wilson last week feeling like they were close.
Close enough that the loss nagged at them. This week, the Rams left no doubt.
Senior running back Justin DeFrancesco rushed for 251 yards and three touchdowns on just 14 carries, leading Spring-Ford to a 45-21 non-conference victory over Exeter Friday night at Don Thomas Stadium.
Exeter senior Nick Sarangoulis wasn't far behind DeFrancesco's totals. He finished with 18 carries for 186 yards, including 169 in the first half, and a touchdown.
Brandon Unterkoefler ran for 95 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns for the Eagles.
But the Rams (2-2) improved to 4-0 in the series after defeating Exeter 38-6 in 2016.
Brubaker said his team appeared to raise its game another notch after a strong showing in a 28-21 loss to Wilson.
"From last week, we absolutely did," Brubaker said. "We had a sour taste in our mouth from last week. We were in that game, and we didn't finish.
"We talked about it this week. We should be sour about that and continue to improve. I feel like we did, but we'll look at the film."
He's bound to see some positives, starting with his offense's ability to churn out yards - the Rams had 352 on the ground - and big plays.
Exeter (2-1) took its only lead, 7-3, on Sarangoulis' 20-yard touchdown run with 5:38 remaining in the first quarter.
Spring-Ford responded by scoring the next 42 points.
The Rams went ahead for good with a 10-play, 69-yard drive. Ryan Engro caught a 9-yard touchdown from TJ Pergine, and Spring-Ford had a 10-7 edge with 1:04 left in the first quarter.
The Rams forced the Eagles to punt on their next three possessions. Spring-Ford, meanwhile, scored on all five of its first-half drives to build a 31-7 halftime advantange.
Pergine threw for 174 yards and three first-half touchdowns.
Brubaker said the statistics tell only part of the story for his senior quarterback.
"How many times did he escape from situations that he shouldn't have and extend plays?" Brubaker said. "He just does a tremendous job all-around."
DeFrancesco put the game out of reach on the third play of the second half, turning a third-and-13 into a 93-yard touchdown dash. He added another long run - this time an 87-yarder - to give his team a 45-7 lead with 4:42 left in the third quarter.
Unterkoefler scored twice, on runs of 30 and 20 yards, in the final 7:21.
Taylor Smith kicked a 31-yard field goal for Spring-Ford.
The teams combined for 18 penalties.
Exeter, which leads the Berks Football League in yards, will open the Section 1 schedule next week at Gov. Mifflin.
Contact Beth Hudson: 610-371-5064 or

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Mercury Spring-Ford vs. Exeter Preview

By Sam Stewart

Spring-Ford at Exeter, 7 p.m.
Don’t question the effort in the Rams’ 28-21 loss to Wilson last week. It was there and the level needs to stay high as Spring-Ford faces undefeated Exeter (2-0) Friday night. “I’d like to think that we derived some confidence from our effort versus Wilson,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “Exeter is another quality opponent with some good returning players so we cannot have a letdown.” Of those returning are dual-threat quarterback Brandon Unterkoefler and running back Nick Sarangoulis. Both have caused headaches for opposing defenses this season, mainly on the ground, as the duo has rushed for 795 yards in two games (Sarangoulis 394 on 40 attempts; Unterkoefler 301 on 37 attempts). “We are concerned with them, obviously,” Brubaker said. “They ran for a ton of yards last week. Their running game is going to be a real challenge for our defensive front. We’re going to need to have everyone involved.”
Quarterback TJ Pergine enters with a PAC-best 542 passing yards. His play in last week’s loss was sensational as he tied a Ram program record with 23 completions in a single game. He’ll need to have a big week again as the Rams try to shore up some defensive miscues that turned three negative plays into three Iggy Reynoso touchdowns. “Tackling is something we need to do better,” Brubaker said. “There were three tackles for loss that turned into touchdowns last Friday. It wasn’t anything that they did. We just started with a bad angle, didn’t use good technique on the ball carrier, and he (Reynoso) was a pretty good high school player. The truth of the matter is, as a team, we are not as strong as we aspire or need to be. We expect and need TJ to have a big week every week. College coaches that see his Wilson film will come away saying, ‘that kid is a player.’”
Prediction >> Spring-Ford 24, Exeter 20

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