Chestnut Hill 27, Haverford School 21 (OT)
This was a tale of two halves . . . and then some. With the "then some" being the overtime session. First half? Yuck. It ended scoreless as both coaches, honestly, redefined close to the vest while no doubt feeling nervous with so much on the line -- CHA had NEVER won an Inter-Ac Title, and HS hadn't done so since 1971. But in the second half, once the first points hit the board with 5:53 left in the third quarter on a 4-yard run by -- don't faint, the identity of the TD scorer is gonna shock you (smile) -- sr. TB Ibraheim Campbell, the loads-of-fun stage began. You know a game is great when even the neutral guys, i.e. sports writers, get sweaty palms. Though the Blue Devils won, thus thrilling a large Homecoming crowd, the Fords deserve oh-so-much credit for battling back from a 14-0 deficit and then again from 21-14. In OT, however, HS killed itself with a pair of gigantic penalties.
The Fords began the extra session, played at the school-building end of CHA's field, and sr. FB Wyatt Benson immediately rumbled 10 yards for a score. Oops, laundry on the lawn. For holding. The infraction happened at the 4, so the ball was placed at the 14. Sr. QB Matt Lengel then rolled right and looked and looked and couldn't find an open receiver and decided to keep. He got to the 12 along the right sideline and, a good five yards out of bounds, a Ford was guilty of jumping on the then-prone CHA tackler. Why he did so, I have no idea, but the dead-ball foul moved the ball back to the 27. Two incompletions followed and frosh Aron Morgan was unable to hit a 45-yard field goal. CHA's first play was a right-side sweep by Campbell. Well, eventually. At first he appeared destined to lose a few yards as a couple-three Fords stormed across the line to swarm him. But no. He fought them off, broke free and ran untouched from there to the right corner. What an effort! The Blue Devils' subs came dashing off the sideline to join with those on the field for a huge celebration. Campbell was simply amazing. He just WILLED that TD to happen. It wasn't as if he was fresh, either. The carry was his 39th of the afternoon (he also plays DB) and, in the second half, only two of the Blue Devils' 21 plays were NOT runs by him. In all, he finished with 234 yards and all four TDs. His grunts included soph C Chris Howard, jr. G Colin Kelly, sr. G Brendan Spearing and sr. Ts Will Emery and Matt Levin (with sr. Tom Devlin , just as passionate a blocker, at FB).
OK, back to the wild developments that got us to OT. On the first play after Campbell's initial TD, Lengel hit jr. RB Carl Walrath for a 24-yard gain on a left-side screen pass. The play was tried again just two snaps later, but frosh OLB Bobby Keyes turned a perfect read into a jump-on-it interception. Campbell ran 12 and 15 yards for his second TD. On the first play of the fourth quarter, CHA jr. QB Danny Gallagher was held to 11.99 inches when 12 were necessary for a first down. The Ford stormed 50 yards in three plays, runs of 5 and 35 by Walrath and a 10-yard shovel pass score to Benson (right after the CHA assistants yelled again and again that a shovel pass would be coming). Back to CHA. Keyes made a fair-catch snag of a Morgan's blooped kickoff. First play. Right to middle slant from Gallagher to sr. WR Jon McAllister for a 45-yard pickup down to the 15. One yard for Campbell, then 14 more and a score for 21-7. On the Fords' second play, Lengel fired one downfield. There was a three-way jump ball (at about the 25?) and no one caught it. Well, except for Walrath, who was standing nearby and gathered in the deflection. That TD play covered 56 yards. CHA followed with three runs by Campbell for 0, 3 and 5 yards. The lead tacklers on the respective plays were sr. DT Max Silver, jr. LB Joe McCallion and sr. LB AJ Jones. The Fords took over at their 14 with 6:14 left. This drive necessitated 13 plays with the biggie a 25-yard pass from Lengel to jr. WR Michael Washington. On third-and-goal from the 2, Benson powered in for the score at 0:17 and Morgan added the PAT. Barely. Sr. little guy Brian Dones, as always, burst in there and got a piece of the ball. Fluttering, it just eased over the crossbar near the right upright. Phew! Campbell did provide some late-regulation drama with a 34-yard run to the 21 as time ran out.
CHA's work is not complete, of course. The BDs must visit Malvern next Saturday and win to claim an outright title. Won't be easy. The Friars still have motivation as a victory would create a tie for the title. HS needs to get past its vast devastation as it's hardly finished, either. If the Fords, as expected, best Episcopal and Malvern also wins, you'll be looking at a half-the-league-wins-the-title situation. In recent years, that happened in '03 AND '04.