MALVERN — Aron Morgan embraced his teammates.
“They all jumped on me,” The Haverford School freshman kicker said.
Morgan drilled a 40-yard field goal with three seconds left in regulation, lifting the Fords to an exhilarating 17-14 Inter-Ac League victory over Malvern Prep Friday.
“I told him that I know you’re going to make this kick,” said senior fullback Wyatt Benson “He does good in practice and he’s going to be a great kicker.”
Morgan’s game-ending kick through the uprights was the top highlight in the Fords’ semi-upset win over the Friars (4-4, 2-1), a perennial Inter-Ac powerhouse. It was the icing on the cake, for sure.
But it was timely defensive stops and Benson’s first run of the game that helped keep the Fords (7-2, 3-0) alive.
Trailing by a touchdown, AJ Kaikai-Jones intercepted Malvern quarterback Chase Gunther early in the fourth quarter. Moments later, the strapping Benson darted through the Friars’ defensive line virtually untouched and sprinted 20 yards to the end zone.
“I was hungry for the ball the whole game,” Benson said. “I have never gone an entire game without getting a carry — ever. I was talking to coach on the sideline and asking him, ‘When am I going to get the ball? When am I going to get the ball?’ When he put me in there, I knew I had to score.”
There’s a nickname for that kind of running, you know.
“Choo-Choo Benson, baby,” the senior said. “Rumblin’ and stumblin’ Choo-Choo Benson.”
Benson’s gloating was well deserved. After all, the Fords had gone five years without scoring a point against Malvern.
“I can’t even explain it. We’re all so happy, especially when you win in the last three seconds like that,” Benson said. “We thought we could be the group that could do it, that can beat them here today.”
The Fords’ defense stepped up on the ensuing Malvern possession. Fullback Bob Scaramuzza was stripped of the ball and Benson, a linebacker on defense, fell on top of it. That fumble recovery led to a Carl Walrath 18-yard scoring run to give the Fords a 14-7 advantage.
In the first half, Malvern stymied the Fords’ ground attack. Walrath, who entered play ranked fifth in Delco with 849 rushing yards, was held to minus-6 yards on six carries in the first two quarters.
After intermission, quarterback Matt Lengel flashed his strong arm, but the Fords maintained a balanced attack.
“We just kept playing our game and kept doing what we had to do,” Benson said. “Our o-line had to block better and that’s about it.”
Gunther hooked up with running back Wally Spencer on a 22-yard pass play to even the score, 14-14.
The Fords got the ball back with four minutes left. Kaikai-Jones made a huge 10-yard reception deep in Fords territory on third down to keep the sticks moving. Walrath made a 20-yard grab to set up Morgan’s game-winning boot.
““It was a great call by coach,” said Kaikai-Jones, who finished with five catches for 104 yards. “Since he believes in me, I got to feel like I have to catch that ball. My teammates hung in there with me and said that I could do it, that I could get the first down. Matt Lengel threw a perfect pass and all I did was catch it. I did the easy part.”
Lengel completed 11 of 27 passes for 146 yards.
Five years ago, coach Mike Murphy developed a long-term plan to turn The Haverford School into an Inter-Ac League contender. With first-place Chestnut Hill Academy due up next, Murphy can proudly call this victory his greatest.
“In the fashion that it happened and it being Malvern and the respect that I have for the program, this is probably the biggest win that I’ve been a part of,” Murphy said. “We hung around and we took the game from them today, which is a great feeling.”
The Haverford School’s Wyatt Benson, right, heads for the end zone on a 20-yard touchdown run during the Fords’ 17-14 victory over Malvern Prep in an Inter-Ac League thriller Friday.