HAVERFORD >> Had the play counted, Nate Whitaker would have accomplished something kind of neat.
The Haverford School junior almost had a touchdown run to go with a touchdown catch and an interception. Such production might be considered a full day’s work for some high school players.
Unfortunately, Whitaker’s 45-yard run in the fourth quarter was called back due to offensive holding. He settled for a 38-yard gainer instead.
“No, I don’t think I’ve ever done that before,” said Whitaker, a junior running back/cornerback. “Only in Madden.”
Whitaker and the Fords resembled a video game team Saturday afternoon at Sabol Field. In their home opener, the reigning Inter-Ac League champions pounded Penn Wood, 48-28.
Whitaker was an ancillary performer in a cast full of valuable contributors. He had six rushes for 47 yards and his lone catch went for 72 yards and a score.
This was precisely the type of bounceback game the Fords (3-1) needed after seeing their program record 21-game winning streak fall by the
wayside at Perkiomen Valley last Friday.
“This week, the coaches let me choose the word of the week. We do that each week on defense,” Whitaker said. “The word that I chose was ‘heart’ because I knew it took a lot out of us in that Perk Valley game. To have the heart, and to never give up, it showed that we were strong enough to come back as a team and be hungry for the next win.”
Haverford erupted for 38 points in the first half, including a 30-spot in the second quarter. Senior quarterback Tommy Toal was excellent, completing 14 of 19 passes for 229 yards and four TDs — all of them in the second stanza.
As a team captain, Toal, who will play baseball at La Salle University, was in a unique position this week. He hadn’t experienced a loss since the first game of his sophomore year, when he was the backup to Kevin Carter. So, the good leader he is, Toal rallied his teammates during the work week and made sure they were ready for a 4-0 Penn Wood team that was brimming with confidence.
“It’s a little weird, to be honest,” said Toal, who added 33 yards on the ground on 10 carries. “The sophomores on this team, last week was the first time they’ve ever lost in a high school uniform. So, that was definitely weird, trying to get everybody back on the right track. We played last Friday night, so it was eight days until we could play again. We were definitely hungry and we had a chip on our shoulder.”
Haverford operated its no-huddle spread offense with precision, except for an interception by Toal on the Fords’ opening drive. Penn Wood’s Fatin Copper jumped the route and came down with the pick. Two plays later, running back Tyreem Welton sprinted 82 yards for a Patriots touchdown to make it 6-0.
The Fords quickly answered.
A seven-play drive was capped by the first of two Mallik Twyman scoring scampers. Twyman, a Colgate recruit, finished with 110 yards on 18 totes. Despite scoring just the one TD, the Fords racked up eight first downs in the first quarter.
The second quarter was all Haverford School.
Toal hit four receivers with touchdown passes: Asim Richards, Whitaker, Bryce Broadus and Conner Mosebrook, who wrestled the ball away from Penn Wood defensive back/quarterback Javon Lindsey-Terrell in the end zone with 1 minute, 9 seconds to go before halftime.
Toal certainly didn’t play favorites with his targets as nine players caught at least one pass. Sam Linder had a team-high four receptions.
“With the receiving core we had last year all out the door, you got to share the ball and get guys experience, get guys confidence. That’s a big thing.” Toal said. “I think today a lot of guys stepped up and I was really impressed with how the receiving corps played.”
Defensively, the Fords seized control at the line of scrimmage deploying a multiple base. Richards, a sophomore defensive end, also flourished as a blocking fullback at times. Malik Geathers, Robert Gibson and Colin Hurlbrink excelled on the D-line. On offense, linemen Hurlbrink, Christian Arakelian, Anthony Reginelli, Frank Zepka and Peter Solomon paved the way for Twyman and Toal.
“Coming off Perk Valley, we just weren’t happy with the way we played football up there,” coach Mike Murphy said. “The result is one thing, but we weren’t happy with the way we played. We came out Tuesday and we really didn’t have a good practice, so we really challenged the boys to turn it up a notch. I’m not sure if some of it was the letdown after the loss, but Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for us were really good days. I felt like we were in the right mindset coming out. We didn’t really start the way we wanted to today, but I was proud of our response, the way we answered that touchdown by them in the first quarter.
Conner Mosebrook wrestles ball away from Javon Lindsey-Terrell for a 26-yard TD catch. Good stuff.
Haverford School 38, Penn Wood 6 pic.twitter.com/3TzyZyjeRY
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) September 24, 2016
“I’ll tell you what, that’s a very good football team over there (Penn Wood). Coach (Nick) Lincoln is doing a very good job with those kids. We knew a very good team was coming over here fired up, undefeated at 4-0. We have respect for that program and we knew we would be in for a tough game today.”
Trailing 45-6 late in the third quarter, the Patriots didn’t go away. Amir Vaughn caught a touchdown pass from backup quarterback Desman Johnson,
a freshman. Johnson added a six-yard scoring run and Kennedy Poles ripped off a 76-yard punt return.
Lindsey-Terrell was 11 of 18 for 98 yards through the air. Welton amassed 101 yards rushing on five carries.
The strong finish will carry Penn Wood into practice this week as Lincoln prepares his players for the Del Val League schedule.
“For us to rally at the end, it was nice,” Lincoln said. “We got behind quick and they controlled the line of scrimmage against us. It was tough. We had our quarterback (Lindsey-Terrell) going both ways because of some internal team stuff, we had some guys out, so that hurt. But, overall, I was just glad we came out in the second half and played hard. That’s all I can ask for.”
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