EAST WHITELAND -- Great Valley and Phoenixville are becoming accustomed to having wars to open the non-league football season.
It happened last year and resulted in a one-point Great Valley victory and both ballclubs went on to qualify for the District 1 Class AAA playoffs. The same thing could happen again in 2009.
On Friday night at Valley Stadium, Great Valley erased a 21-7 third-quarter deficit and edged the Phantoms, 27-21, in overtime.
Casey Haines rushed for three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime on a 1-yard plunge, to lead the Patriots. Haines finished the night with 97 yards rushing on 26 carries. He also scored on runs of 2 and 4 yards.
Great Valley, which played without star all-purpose back Brian Pommerer due to a shoulder injury, also got some rushing help from Chuckie Showers (11-68) and Colin Johnson (13-24). The Patriots outgained the Phantoms on the ground, 186-90. Showers added a 9-yard scoring burst in the fourth period.
The Patriots won the contest despite turning the ball over three times on fumbles and three more times on interceptions. They trailed 14-7 at halftime and were also penalized nine times for 65 yards in the game.
Haines scored on a 4-yard run on a burst up the middle with 42 seconds left in regulation time, and Will Nelson kicked the extra point to create the 21-all deadlock after four quarters.
The Patriots won the coin flip for overtime and elected to play defense first. On first down from the Great Valley 10-yard line, Phoenixville quarterback Tom Romano attempted to hit tight end Vince Ciaverelli with a pass in the end zone. However, the pass was intercepted by Great Valley defensive back Steve Lochry.
Great Valley then scored in three straight plays. Johnson ran for five yards on first down, Haines picked up four more and then scored on the ensuing play.
Great Valley quarterback Dave Hausladen completed three of 10 aerials for 57 yards. Lochry had two receptions for 44 yards.
Romano completed four of 13 passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Sam McQuiston led the Phantoms in rushing with 10 carries for 60 yards. Ricky Yenchick had 21 yards on three tries before leaving the game in the first half with an apparent rib injury.
Sophomore Travis Andrews took his place in the backfield and caught a 46-yard scoring toss from Romano.
The Phantoms' Ducky Ryan scored on a 35-yard interception return that tied the score at 7 in the opening quarter.
Romano and Dan Kain also pilfered passes for Phoenixville. Ryan and McQuiston also recovered fumbles.
"When you play them, you expect the game to go at least down to the wire," said Great Valley coach Gary Phillips. "It was not unexpected. We knew they were a physical team offensively and defensively. They make no mistakes and are well-coached. We are very,
very fortunate to win tonight.
"We had five turnovers in the first half. They were making plays and we weren't making plays. But we hung in there and battled. We beat a good, playoff-caliber team. We have to build on this one."
Phoenixville coach Bill Furlong praised his opponent, too.
"They (Patriots) are a good team," said Furlong. "Give them credit. We got up on them and they came back. But this does not change anything as far as how we approach the season. We have a little immaturity and it came through. The effort was there. The kids played as hard they could. We have bounced back from things like this before. We have to check the film for execution.
"We have a couple guys who have to step up. Great Valley outplayed us. We have to deal with adversity and learn from it."
Dennis Kelly was in on two sacks for the Phantoms, and Ken Cenci, Marcus Stokes and Ernie Knight and Greg Porter one each. Anthony McFalls had two sacks for the Patriots and Zach Anderson, Mike Moules, Erik Buccholz and Jesse Horn one each.
Great Valley 27, Phoenixville 21 (OT)
Phoenixville 14 0 7 0 0 - 21
Great Valley 7 0 0 14 6 - 27
GV-Haines 2 run (Nelson kick)
Px-Ryan 35 interception return (McInally kick)
Px-McQuiston 9 pass from Romano (McInally kick)
Px-Andrews 46 pass from Romano (McInally kick)
GV-Showers 9 run (Nelson kick)
GV-Haines 4 run (Nelson kick)
GV-Haines 1 run (no extra point tried)
First downs 7 16
Rushing yardage 90 186
Passing yardage 79 57
Total yardage 169 243
Passes C-A-I 4-13-1 3-11-3
Fumbles-lost 5-1 4-3
Penalties-yards 4-25 9-65
Punts-avg. 5-33.6 3-34.3
RUSHING: Px-McQuiston 10-60; Yenchick 3-21; Andrews 8-10; Ryan 4-4; Romano 10-3; Cenci 1-2. GV-Haines 26-97, 3 TD; Showers 11-68, 1 TD; Johnson 13-24; Kuhn 1-2; Hausladen 6-(-4).
PASSING: Px-Romano 4-13-79, 2 TDs, 1 INT. GV-Hausladen 3-10-57, 2 INTas; Johnson 0-1-0, 1 INT.
RECEIVING: Px-McQuiston 2-9, 1 TD; Andrews 1-46, 1 TD; Kain 1-24. GV-Lochry 2-44; Haines 1-13