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Haverford School's Benson scores touchdowns, and an Eagles experience

Posted Monday, October 19, 2009 by Philadelphia Daily News


Wyatt Benson is now experiencing quite the special-memories roll.

The fun has come both while playing and spectating, and that latter endeavor featured a terrific dose of celebrity hobnobbing.

Let's begin with the most recent occurrence, when he was playing, and we're talking about Saturday, when the 6-2, 220-pound Benson, a senior fullback and linebacker, starred on both sides of the ball as Haverford School crunched visiting Germantown Academy, 47-12, in a rainy Inter-Ac League opener.

"That was the first time I scored two touchdowns in one game," he said excitedly. "Not just for Haverford. For any team."

As cool as that was, it paled in comparison to the fact Benson had scored two tickets for the Eagles' Sept.27 home game with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Following the 2008 lead of Brian Dawkins, now with Denver, quarterback Donovan McNabb this season is treating deserving high school players to tickets to home games. Coaches make the nominations to Daily News assistant sports editor Chuck Bausman - the criteria goes way beyond grid skills - and McNabb makes the final decision.

"Getting picked for that was very important to me. It shows that I'm more than just a football player," said Benson, who has already committed to Temple. "It means a lot that coach Murphy thinks that highly of me. It has brought us even closer together."

To accompany him to the game, Benson chose his grandfather, Grover Benson, who has pretty much traveled everywhere to enjoy his career. The guys watched warmups from field level, then checked out the game from the last row of the team's lower-level family section.

"I took my grandfather because he's a big Eagles' fan, but had never been to a game," Benson said. "On the field, I remember Sheldon Brown and Macho Harris ran past us and gave us thumbs-up signs and then in the stands, we were sitting near Quintin Demps' mom and Michael Vick's dad.

"The seats were good - behind Kansas City's bench - but I thought they'd be even closer to the field since those people are family."

Afterward, Benson and his grandpa were whisked to an area beneath the stands, right near the room where postgame interviews are conducted. McNabb, still injured at that point, showed up almost immediately and spent maybe 5 minutes with the Bensons.

"When Donovan first walked up and saw me, he said, 'This guy's big,'" Wyatt said. "He's a goofy guy. He really had me laughing. My grandpa loved everything. He was trying to play it off, but I think he was more excited than I was.

"Donovan was asking me questions and before I could talk, my grandpa was answering. You could tell Donovan knew about me because he was asking me questions about going to Temple."

Luckily, Benson was sharp enough to bring a camera.

"There was a bodyguard right there," he said. "I asked him if he'd take a picture of the three of us. It was nice. I have it on my Facebook page and I sent it to a few teachers who were excited for me, and were asking how the whole day went."

Today in school, they're probably requesting greater detail on Saturday's outing.

Benson's primary responsibility on offense is blocking and he helped Carl Walrath rush for 184 yards and two TDs on 20 carries. On one of his two opportunities, Benson rumbled 13 yards for a score.

And then there was the third-quarter shovel pass...

Quarterback Matt Lengel had just scampered 49 yards to GA's 15. Benson caught the flip and powered again and again up the middle to barely get into the zone. It was a great show of second, third, even fourth effort.

Under duress, too.

"Just as I caught the ball, I got a cramp," he said, laughing. "I was like, 'Oh, no! Not now! I have a chance to score!' I just wanted to get to the end zone before I had to fall down. Barely made it, but I did."

On defense, Benson four times registered tackles for losses and had a memorable adventure there, as well.

Five minutes into the game, GA's Keith Braccia flipped an over-the-middle pass. Joe McCallion intercepted after two teammates made deflections.

"AJ Jones hit it first, then I hit it second," Benson reported. "I thought I was going to get the pick...At least Joe did. GA was in the red zone, so that was a big play."

Especially in light of the fact Walrath immediately raced 94 yards to payturf. Though Ryan Dolan returned the following kickoff 88 yards for a score, the Fords mostly frolicked from there and posted three more long TDs (Lengel's 74-yard pass to Michael Washington, Walrath's 73-yard interception return, Nick Craig's 65-yard run).

Benson, who lives in Wynnefield, not far from Overbrook High, plans to major in criminal justice.

"With that degree," he said, "you can go a bunch of different ways."

Hey, Donovan, don't make too many plans for May2014. Maybe you'll be invited to graduation.

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