ROYERSFORD -- Owen J. Roberts' and Spring-Ford's devoted followings sat oh so quietly in their respective corners during the first and second halves, respectively, of Wednesday night's Pioneer Athletic Confer-ence wrestling match.
Neither the OJR fans nor the Wildcats had much to say through the first seven bouts. Then neither the Spring-Ford fans nor the Rams had much to say through the final seven bouts. And everyone was fidgeting on the edge of their seats by the time it was over.
But it was Spring-Ford, that's the Rams, their coaches and their fans, were hooting and hollering in the end when the hosts escaped the upstart Wildcats, 34-30.
Yes, it was that close.
The Rams (1-1, 2-1 overall) opened with three pins, a forfeit and two decisions in sweeping six of the initial seven individual matches, creating a 30-3 cushion as well as the threat of a runaway. However, the Wildcats (1-1, 1-1) reversed those woes by answering with three pins and three decisions in six of the final seven individual bouts.
The four-point differential? The forfeit to Allan Gauger at 112 pounds and Matt Moley's major decision at 135 countering Will Bentley's decision at 103 for the Wildcats.
"We knew we had to beat (OJR) up top and down at the bottom because once we hit 119 or 125 they're solid," said Spring-Ford head coach Tim Seislove. "We knew we had to get the big points up top because once we hit the middle we felt anything could happen."
Seislove got the big points from Mike Platco (189) and Jamie Maute (215) when they opened the night with pins in 49 and 32 seconds, respectively. Scott Kodish (heavyweight) followed with a decision before Bentley got OJR on the board with his 7-4 decision at 103. But the forfeit to Gauger, John Martin's 5-1 decision at 119, and Gareth Cooper's first-period pin at 125 gave the Rams that 30-3 lead.
The Wildcats didn't exactly roll over, though.
Jeremy Stierly pinned at 130 before Moley quieted the Wildcats' side of the gym for a few moments with his 21-8 major. But that would be the Rams' last hurrah of the evening ..at least until the final score was posted.
OJR ran off five straight wins -- Rodney Francis' pin at 140, Derek Eckhart's decision at 145, Phil Rupert's decision at 152, Robert Hoffman's pin at 160, and Ryan Menkins' decision at 171 -- and Francis, Eckhart and Menkins all came from behind to pull out their victories.
"(The match) pretty much went the way we thought it would," said OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo. "I'm proud of the kids, though. They gutted it out. I'm happy with the way they wrestled.
"We were hoping to get something early, but that's where our guys are inexperienced, and (Spring-Ford's) kids up top are pretty tough. But some of our kids gutted it out. This is a stepping stone for us."
Seislove will working on the Rams' stepping stones today in practice.
"We had been wrestling well, but tournament wrestling is different," he said, noting the team's strong finishes of late in the Times Leader and Buckskin Classic outings. "I'm disappointed in the way we wrestled. (OJR) is a very good team and with some outstanding individuals, but I'm disappointed because we lost a few matches in the third period."