McMURRAY – For a team fighting to get into the playoff hunt, the last thing it needs is an injury to arguably its best player.
Peters Township suffered that worst-case scenario.
Despite the importance of Friday’s game, the Indians’ 35-3 victory over Southeastern Conference opponent Plum became something of an afterthought because of the status of quarterback Cory Owen, who was injured late in the second quarter after scrambling in the backfield for several seconds. Owen did not return after being hit with a helmet in the upper body.
Indians coach Rich Piccinini did not have an update on Owen or his status for next week.
“The doctors will have to tell us that,” said Piccinini.
Peters Township (2-3, 3-3) was already facing an uphill climb if it wanted to qualify for the playoffs, needing to string together some wins in a hurry. Losing Owen for an extended period of time makes that task tougher.
Should Owen miss time, Tim Swoope, one of Peters Township’s top basketball players, will quarterback the Indians.
“Tim Swoope is a very capable backup quarterback. He can definitely come in and run the offense,” said Piccinini. “He’s an excellent athlete.”
Owen’s value to the Indians was felt before his injury. He rushed for 108 yards on 11 carries, including a 43-yard touchdown, as he directed Peters Township to touchdowns on its first three possessions.
He did get some help from running back Marcus Ubinger and some aggressive play-calling by Piccinini.
On Peters Township’s opening drive, Piccinini called a fake punt on fourth and nine from the Mustangs’ 44-yard line. Ubinger ran 14 yards and eventually capped off the possession with an 18-yard touchdown run.
That opening possession lasted 13 plays, traveled 85 yards and took 5:43 off the clock.
The Indians didn’t take nearly as long to score on their second drive. After starting in Plum territory, Peters Township needed just two plays to score, with Owen scampering 43 yards on a misdirection play with the Mustangs defense lured by the fake to Mark Minjock.
“Cory is a big threat and one of our go-to guys,” said Piccinini. “He always seems to break loose on one or two plays.”
With Owen out of the game, Ubinger’s role in the offense became greater, but he also became more of the focus for Plum’s defense, and Peters Township’s offense slowed when it had the ball.
Fortunately for the Indians, the defense put the nail in the Mustangs’ coffin.
On the opening possession of the third quarter, Conner Kachowski blocked a Plum punt inside the 5-yard line, and Christian Phelps scooped it up and carried it the final two yards for a touchdown that broke the game open.
Late in the game, Ubinger put an exclamation point on the game by rushing for a 40-yard touchdown. He finished with 129 yards on 23 carries to give Peters Township a much-needed win.
“There are different scenarios for us to get in,” said Piccinini. “We want to control our destiny. The way we look at it, the more we win, the better chance we’ve got.”