HAVERFORD >> As rain poured down Friday, amid boisterous students, teammates and coaches, Jack Farrell took in the whole scene.
His Haverford team had just finished off Lansdale Catholic, 38-7, in nonleague action on Senior Night. The lineman/linebacker helped lead a second-half charge fronted by a dominating running game and a suffocating defense. Now, as he and everyone celebrated the win, the enormity of the last four years started to come together.
“It’s kind of magical, honestly,” Farrell explained. “Coming off a loss like that (last week to Marple Newtown), we kind of focused in this week; we took everything to heart. We knew this was going to be our last game here. We took everything we had and put it out on this game.”
Haverford (6-3) was up 14-7 at the half, but took care of Lansdale Catholic (2-6) in the second half. Ranked No. 16 in the PIAA District 1 Class 5A power rankings entering this week, the Fords did their part to hold onto their playoff position. Next week’s game at Springfield will likely decide their postseason fate, but that’s a problem for another day.
For now, it was about this victory on this night.
“The win is tremendous,” Haverford coach Joe Gallagher said.
Mike Romanofsky (119 hard-fought yards on 14 carries) and Kareem Bernard (67 yards on four mostly effective jet sweeps) did most of the work. Bernard had a 45-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter where he channeled Marshawn Lynch’s “Beast Quake” run from the 2011 NFL Playoffs. Romanofsky followed with scoring runs of three and one yard to ice the game early in the fourth quarter.
In all, Haverford rushed for 218 yards, the bulk of which came in the second half. The focus on doing that was one of the many things Gallagher tinkered with at halftime.
“Mindset, and running the ball,” the veteran coach said of his halftime adjustments. “The ability to run the ball. We made up our minds that if we’re going to win this game, we’re going to have to run the ball. That really was the difference.”
Farrell and his teammates were not pleased with their first-half performance. Despite the lead, they knew they could and should do better. Gallagher gave them the motivation to accomplish that.
“Coach (Gallagher) did it,” Farrell said. “He really fired us up. Coach loves this night. It’s his favorite night of the year. He’ll tell you that, too. It gets emotional for him because he loves it so much. It was his game.”
The Fords led 14-0 behind first-half touchdowns from John Klee (one-yard sneak) and Jordan Mosley (28-yard screen pass from Jack Ruane). Lansdale Catholic got close on Michael Basilii’s one-yard sneak late in the first half, but the Class AAA team had little chance after halftime.
Matt Casee did rush for 101 yards, but the Crusaders figured things weren’t going to be easy.
“They had too many weapons,” Crusaders coach Tom Kirk said. “You can’t cover all of them.”
Haverford will take those weapons into Springfield next week, where Gallagher estimates a win will earn his squad a playoff berth. The Cougars, despite Friday’s loss to Garnet Valley, will pose as a much tougher challenge than Lansdale Catholic.
They will also be coming off their first loss of the year. Gallagher will not read into that.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re angry or not, it’ll be a good game between two good teams,” he said. “And that’s how we’re looking at it.”