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Indians beat Cougars to win PIAA Class 5A District 1 championship

Unionville senior Joe Zubillaga led the Indians to their first District 1 title since 1994.

Unionville defender Joe Zubillaga (left) takes down Springfield running back Ja’Den McKenzie for a loss during the Indians’ win.
Unionville defender Joe Zubillaga (left) takes down Springfield running back Ja’Den McKenzie for a loss during the Indians’ win.Read moreMARK C PSORAS

About the only things Unionville senior Joe Zubillaga didn't do Friday night against Springfield was park cars, punch tickets, and run the concession stand.

The 6-1, 210-pound senior do-it-all led Unionville to its first PIAA Class 5A District 1 championship with a 35-25 win against host, and previously undefeated, Cougars.

"This means a lot," he said. "We knew we had something special and to prove it is great. We've been doubted all year, but today we finally proved why we're the best team in District 1!"

Zubillaga's interception return for a touchdown got Unionville rolling in the first quarter.

He followed that with a second interception on Springfield's next possession. He also made several tackles as an outside linebacker, caught 2 passes for 46 yards and added a rushing touchdown.

"It's a blast," he said of his versatile role. "They let me do whatever I want and have fun, so it's great."

Zubillaga and Co. now await the winner of Saturday's matchup between Archbishop Wood and Wyoming Valley West.

On Friday night in front of a packed crowd, Unionville's defense was stout throughout.

Junior linebacker Alijah Woodall made perhaps the game's most critical play.

With his team ahead, 28-25, with 1 minute, 54 seconds remaining, Woodall converted his own strip-sack-fumble into a touchdown when he fell on the football.

"I just saw him and I went," Woodall said. "I did it for the team. These guys are my brothers."

Woodall and the defense held the Cougars to just 27 yards rushing for the game.

At intermission, Springfield had just 12 total yards (1 rushing) and only one first down.

Offensively, Unionville (14-1) was led by quarterback Alex Gorgone, who threw for 108 yards and a score and added 65 yards on the ground.

Dante Graham and J.T. Hower also made significant plays late.

Hower caught a 50-yard touchdown pass in the third frame after Springfield took an 18-14 edge after trailing, 14-9, at halftime.

Kyle Long finished with 4 catches for 51 yards and a score for the Cougars (13-1).

Ja'Den McKenzie finished with 51 yards and a score on 21 carries before leaving the game with an injury late in the fourth.

The game was sloppy, but Unionville coach Pat Clark was proud that his team found a way to win.

Unionville lost three fumbles. Springfield lost two and threw two interceptions.

"Everybody stepped up," Clark said.

"It's just incredible for this group of kids," he added. "We ask so much of them and to get to this point in the season and still be playing, I'm really happy for them. They're the guys who made it happen."


Unionville 7 7 7 14 35

Springfield 0 9 9 7 25

U: Joe Zubillaga 26 INT. Stefan Twomby kick.

S: Ja'Den McKenzie 10 run. Kick failed

U: Dante Graham 2 run. Twomby kick

S: Jack Coary 29 field goal.

S: Coary 27 field goal.

S: Kyle Long 22 pass from Jack Psenicska. Run failed

U: J.T. Hower 50 pass from Alex Gorgone Twomby kick

U: Zubillaga 1 run  Twomby kick

S: Liam Difonzo 5 pass from Psenicska. Coary kick.

U: Alijah Woodall fumble return. Twomby kick