Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly might not care much about it, but time of possession was key at Rams Stadium on Friday night.
Penns Valley (2-4) controlled the clock, tempo and, subsequently, scoreboard, consistently pounding the rock early while taking shots downfield wisely on its way to a 26-7 Homecoming win over Philipsburg-Osceola (0-6).
“That was a big part of our gameplan coming in,” Penns Valley coach Martin Tobias said. “We wanted to establish the ground game. We wanted to take control of the football, move it efficiently and effectively, and also use the clock.”
The Rams really couldn’t have done it better. Of the game’s 48 minutes, Penns Valley held possession for 30:17.
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The Rams utilized battering back Chase Collison early and often, as No. 40 helped set the tone. Three yards here, four yards there, Collison was hitting the ‘A’ gap with fury all evening, racking up 162 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
And his punishing presence was felt from the get-go. On Penns Valley’s opening drive, Collison ran the ball eight times.
Tobias noted the plan was to be run-heavy, but said neither he nor Collison thought the back would carry the load as much as he did.
“There’s no question that he toted the rock a lot tonight,” Tobias said.
When Collison wasn’t fielding handoffs, he was helping out in the passing game, which complemented the Rams’ rushing-centric attack.
Collison tallied a game-high four catches for 31 yards as a safety valve for quarterback Andrew Tobias, who had himself a fine night as well.
The junior signal caller completed 10 of 20 passes for 167 yards. A few of those passes were near touchdowns, but set up scores for the Rams.
After a scoreless first quarter, Tobias hit junior wideout Jared Hurd for a 35-yard completion to the P-O 1-yard line. From there, running back Takoda Bubb glided into the end zone on a toss, his only carry of the night, for the game’s opening touchdown.
On the next drive, facing a third and 11 on P-O’s 17, Tobias connected with Hurd again for 16 yards to the 1-yard line. The next play, Tobias handled a bootleg for an easy score.
That was all the scoring for the first half, but Tobias wasn’t done.
On Penns Valley’s second drive of the third quarter, Tobias went to Hurd for a third time. The result? Much of the same, a 29-yard hookup to the P-O 1-yard line. Collison took it in from there.
It’s safe to say that the Rams’ coach was pleased with his son’s performance.
“I thought he did a nice job of executing within our gameplan,” Martin Tobias said. “He certainly did a good job of making decisions and getting the ball where it needed to go.”
For P-O, it was another opportunity at win No. 1 on the year, but the Mounties couldn’t overcome an early 13-point deficit.
P-O did come out of the second half strong, running on the Rams with confidence. Ty Laird, who finished with 58 yards on 19 carries, rushed on four of the Mounties’ six plays in their second-half opening drive.
The lone scoring march of the night for P-O was capped with a 27-yard option keeper from quarterback Jake Anderson. The senior also had an exciting 36-yard run in the fourth quarter, but also had two first-half interceptions.
Mounties coach Mike Soyster enjoyed that scoring drive, but said his squad still has some deficiencies.
“We keep seeing more and more little things (improve),” Soyster said, “but we need to be more consistent in making sure there’s a lot less bad things.”
Meanwhile, Tobias was satisfied with how his team played. Considering the Rams’ ups and downs this season, the coach said his players have “done a lot of things well this season.”
That was certainly the case on Friday.
“They’ve made progress,” Tobias said. “They’ve taken the steps they’ve needed to.”