When Haverford School quarterback Dan Judge was a sophomore, Penn Charter beat the Fords, 56-0. Judge and a few of his senior teammates remember that pasting very well. So there was plenty of motivation for the Fords yesterday when they opened their Inter-Academic League season at Penn Charter. That and the fact that Haverford School hadn't beaten the Quakers since 1991 was enough to get everybody at school stirred, according to Judge. "It was the talk at school all week," the quarterback said after passing for two touchdowns and running for another as the Fords ended the 17-year losing streak with a 32-22 win. "My teachers kept coming up to me and telling me 'good luck.' That 56-0 loss was definitely on my mind."
The victory was the fifth in six games for the Fords, who are off to their best start in several seasons. Their only loss has been a 7-0 setback against Cardinal O'Hara.
The Fords jumped out to a 26-7 halftime lead, but a couple of late touchdowns by the Quakers made it interesting. After Penn Charter tied the game, 7-7, on the first of two long kickoff returns by Michael Brown, the Fords built their big halftime lead on a second touchdown by AJ Kaikai-Jones, another TD by Carl Walrath, and a third by Wyatt Benson on an 84-yard run with a blocked field goal.
"We've been playing well in most phases of the game," Haverford School coach Mike Murphy said. "We need to look at our kickoff coverage, though." He was referring to the two long kickoff returns by Brown. "The kids were certainly aware of the long losing streak, but we didn't prepare anything special for this game."
When Penn Charter's Mike Foley scored on a pass from quarterback John Loughery to make it 32-22, there were 3 minutes, 44 seconds remaining. An ensuing onside kick did not work, although the Quakers disputed the ruling on which team had recovered it.
QB Judge leads Haverford to victory over Penn Charter
YOU BE the Judge.
When he transferred out of longtime power St. Joseph's Prep following his freshman year, did Dan Judge make the right move in choosing Haverford School?
Wait. Before you snicker and/or make derisive comments, check out the current Fords.
Thanks in part to Judge, a 6-3, 210-pound senior quarterback with the ability to gun the ball out of the pocket and truck people when he leaves it, Haverford boasts a 5-1 overall record and only a total collapse in the last four games will prevent not only its first winning season since 2000, but only its fifth in the last 33.
Also, Judge is progressing daily under the tutelage of ex-Penn State star Zack Mills, an assistant to head coach Michael Murphy, and has already accepted a scholarship to a Division I-AA power, Richmond.
Judge is either very lucky or extremely perceptive.
He'll go with the latter, thank you.
"When I decided to leave the Prep, and then met with coach Murphy, I knew he was turning the program around," Judge said. "I wanted to be a part of that, definitely."
Judge spoke yesterday a shade after 6 p.m., as the Fords basked in the glow of a successful Inter-Ac League opener.
They'd just bested host Penn Charter, 32-22, with Judge passing for two touchdowns and running for another.
Judge explained that the daily trip to Prep from Chester Springs, in Chester County, was quite the grind. It was taking 60 to 75 minutes in each direction and his academics were suffering.
Where to go next? Hey, how about Haverford? Haverford!!??
"I knew they'd had a couple struggling years," Judge said.
Years? Try decades.
"Yeah, I didn't want to say that," he shot back with a laugh.
Judge passed 8-for-12 for 79 yards and his team's first two touchdowns, covering 2 and 24 yards to AJ Jones (5-41). His rushing stats showed 11 carries for 36 yards and he made it 32-6 on a 10-yard bolt with 7:33 remaining.
As Judge crossed the goal line in the right corner, he held the ball at arm's length in front of him. Little excited there, buddy?
"Just trying to showboat a little," he said. "Have a little bit of fun."
All day, PC assigned defensive end Justin Renfrow (6-4, 240), a Virginia commit, to pound Judge as often as possible.
"I didn't see the [second TD] to AJ," Judge said. "I was on my back. Renfrow was definitely trying to put a hurtin' on me. He played a good game.
"The passes to AJ were 'feel routes.' We've reached the spot where I can throw it to a spot and know he's going to be there to catch it."
From Mills, Judge said he is learning "the whole strategy of playing quarterback." His arm strength has steadily improved, as have his leadership skills, and he acknowledges that he's still working on the mental aspect.
As for the Fords' other TDs . . . One was somewhat pedestrian, as Carl Walrath went 14 yards with a counter. The other was almost an all-timer, as Wyatt Benson returned a blocked field goal 84 yards. The city record is 87, set by Bishop McDevitt's Scott Yancey in 1975.
In defeat, its first against Haverford since 1991, PC at least had fun in the form of two long kickoff-return TDs by Michael Brown (85 and 86 yards). And with 3 minutes, 44 seconds left, sophomore John Loughery, first cousin of Atlanta Falcons rookie Matt Ryan, whipped a 6-yard TD pass to Mick Foley.
Judge, an impressive physical specimen, thinks Richmond would be a great fit for his skills.
"They do some power running," he said. "But they also like to throw the ball around. They like to keep the ball in the quarterback's hands and let him make plays."
Although most I-A observers are conceding the championship to powerful Malvern Prep, the next school of thought is that the Fords can at least finish second. The teams meet Friday afternoon at Haverford.
"We've gotten better little by little over the past 3 years," Judge said. "We've done hard work in the weight room. Came to school all summer for workouts. Now, during free periods, we watch game films just to make sure we're prepared.
"Everyone wants this really bad."
No way to misJudge that. *
Photos by RACHEL PLAYE
Haverford School shows off its versatilty