Week #3 News Articles
Posted Saturday, September 13, 2008 by Haverford Football
|H.S. Football: O'Hara beats rain, Haverford School
|By: John Lohn , firstname.lastname@example.org
|HAVERFORD - Given its status as a District 12 title contender and its top-five ranking in several statewide polls, Cardinal O'Hara was tabbed as an overwhelming favorite in its nonleague matchup with The Haverford School Friday.
It turned out that the only overwhelming force on the Main Line was Mother Nature.
It took until 4:23 remained in the fourth quarter for Corey Brown to score the game's lone touchdown, handing the Lions a 7-0 victory in a heavy downpour. The win was O'Hara's third straight and its second shutout of the season, but it was a challenge all the way.
"To be honest, I got a little emotional talking to these guys," said Haverford coach Michael Murphy, referring to his postgame meeting with his players. "They left everything out there. People thought we were crazy scheduling this game. I couldn't be prouder of the effort. They fought until the end."
While O'Hara is a well-established program, having won a pair of Catholic League Red Division titles since 2000, The Haverford School has long resided in the bottom of the Inter-Ac League. Only twice in the past 17 years have the Fords managed a winning record.
But Murphy, in his fourth year in charge, has Haverford moving forward. Before last week's game with Reading Central Catholic was canceled due to Tropical Storm Hanna, the Fords opened the season with a 25-point thumping of Radnor. Although Malvern is the consensus pick to win the Inter-Ac crown, The Haverford School appears poised for a strong campaign.
Heck, it took a Division I prospect to beat them. After Brendan O'Callaghan recovered a fumble with 8:23 left, Brown went to work. Quiet for most of the afternoon, Brown carried seven times on a nine-play drive that covered 68 yards and culminated in a 9-yard touchdown run by the junior.
With scholarship offers from Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan on the table, Brown gained 84 of his 120 yards in the fourth quarter. He delivered a 32-yard burst on the touchdown drive and added a 26-yard scamper on O'Hara's final series.
"That was a tough team and their defense really kept them in it," said O'Callaghan, who added a first-quarter sack. "Our defense just wanted to keep a zero on the board and give our offense a chance to score. I thought we showed a lot of character."
Before Brown got loose in the last 12 minutes, The Haverford School relied on a defensive line that received quality play from Sam Shea, Rob Boyle and Kieran Avis. Meanwhile, Shomari Watts was solid at outside linebacker.
The problem was the Fords' inability to sustain a drive against an O'Hara defense that has yielded only six points in three games. Despite excellent field position early in the game, the Fords couldn't get anything going. Haverford reached the red zone only once and were limited to 132 yards in total offense.
Aside from Brown's output, the Lions received 79 passing yards from Tom Savage. Headed for Rutgers, Savage was 9-for-14, four of his completions going to Bob Royal.
"Defensively, I think we've improved each week since our first scrimmage," O'Hara coach Danny Algeo said. "What concerns me is how we've been inconsistent offensively. I know we're not going to drop 40 points each night, but ... "You have to be ready each game you go out there. You can't look at the past and think a game is going to be easy. That's a good football team we played."
9/12/08 Huck's Corner - www.tedsilary.com
O’Hara 7, Haverford School 0
Today’s overriding theme can be summed up with one simple word – Wet! Fortunately, we were spared chilly temperatures and there was very little wind, but it rained in steady-to-hard fashion from beginning to end. It was not pleasant at all! And on top of that, I was not prepared for the conditions even a little. I had to forgo stat-keeping for the second quarter, as my legal pad and make-shift cover were overcome by the perfect storm. Additionally, my maroon Temple hat dripped reddish dye all over the long-sleeve white T-shirt, thus, I resembled a 3rd grader after a bout with a cherry water ice. Luckily, Daily Times’ H.S. writer John Lohn was in attendance too. Of course, John was much more equipped to handle the conditions and agreed to pass along the second quarter stats to me at halftime. In the meantime, I served as the world’s wettest and pinkest spotter, smile!
As for the game, it carried a will-anyone-score feel midway through the fourth quarter. The key sequence went like this. Haverford School’s jr. DL Bob Boyle recovered a fumble that was forced by jr. LB Andrew Herm. On the next play, from the O’Hara 40, sr. RB Terance FitzSimmons scooted 12 yards and the Fords appeared to be in business. However, the following play produced an incomplete pass and that was piggy-backed by a fumble by sr. QB Dan Judge as he dropped back to pass. O’Hara’s jr. DE Brendan O’Callahan made the recovery at his own 32-yard line.
Next, the Lions used ten consecutive running plays to score the game’s only touchdown. Franchise jr. RB/DB Corey Brown carried the ball on seven of the ten plays, including the last five totes. Up until this point the Fords defensive front did an excellent job of bottling up the speedy and talented back. Still, when a player of Brown’s caliber continues to get opportunities, he is bound to make something happen. His break-free moment came in the form of a 32-yard gallop to the Fords’ 25. A short time later he slipped through the line for a 9-yard scoring run. Afterwards, the game clock showed just 4:23 left.
To begin their next drive, the Fords started with good field position at their 43-yard line. However, the slippery pigskin did them in for the second straight offensive play. O’Hara’s sr. OL/DT Dennis Mushrush was there to pounce and give the ball back to the Lions. A 26-yard run by Brown was the key play in allowing O’Hara to hold onto the ball for most of the remaining time. The Fords did get it back deep in their territory, but just 24 ticks remained. They managed to run six plays, but got no further than their 29-yard line before the final gun had sounded.
Brown finished with 120 hard-earned yards on 23 carries. Interestingly, 15 carries and 83 of these yards came in the final quarter. Sr. QB Tom Savage (Rutgers) was harassed all day and the wet conditions didn’t help in the throwing and catching departments either. He did finish with 85 yards on 9-for-15 accuracy, though. His main target was sr. WR Bob Royal (4-31). My defensive stats for both teams are inaccurate because I couldn’t track them in the second quarter.
In the other three frames, sr. DB Evan Higgins registered 5 solo tackles for the Lions. While, O’Callahan, jr. DE/C Matt Williams, and sr. DL/OL Andrew Glace notched a sack apiece. It’s hard to say what the outcome of the game would have been if played in ideal conditions. My hunch is that O’Hara still leaves with a victory, maybe with further separation than the one touchdown final.
Still, the Fords were game and probably would have put up a much greater fight than some of the prognosticators (Smile!!!) had predicted. In fact, early on the Fords have several opportunities to jump on top. Three times in the first quarter they had drives enter O’Hara territory. One even started at the Lion 22-yard line after sr. DB Chris Ambrogi got a piece of a Savage punt. So, what prevented the Fords from making that early statement? Penalties! HS committed seven infractions worth 50 yards (9 for 75 yards total) in the initial half. Six of these were of the procedure or delay-of-game variety. Not good!
For the most part, the Fords’ offense had trouble finding space and was limited to just 28 second half yards. Fitzsimmons was their most productive rusher with 62 yards on 7 carries. The versatile Judge could only manage 60 yards passing and rushing.
On the defense, the boys in the trenches were stalwart throughout. Jr. DL Sam Shea (1.5 sacks, 6 other tackles), Boyle (2 fumb. Rec., 7 tackles), and jr. Kieran Avis (3 stops) were game-long forces. Sr. Shomari Watts was impressive with a sack and 6 tackles. Jr. DB Joe Nassib (five) and soph. Carl Walrath (four) were active in the tackling area.
Fords’ Head Coach Michael Murphy and his staff have this club headed in the right direction.
I expect them to be a tough out for most of the teams on their schedule.