RIDLEY TWP. >> All Trey Blair did in the final three minutes of Friday night’s Central League game was break up a potential touchdown catch, nab an interception and boot a 48-yard punt.
Not bad for a sophomore.
The Haverford High athlete sure has the makeup to be something special. Coach Joe Gallagher knows talent when he sees it.
“He’ll be a Division I player,” Gallagher said after witnessing Blair’s coming of age in Haverford’s thrilling 13-9 victory over Ridley.
With 1:09 to play in the fourth quarter at Phil Marion Field, the Fords were forced to punt the ball from deep inside their territory. Blair stood about three yards shy of the end zone, waiting to receive the snap.
You can guess what was going through his mind …
“At first I was thinking to myself was, ‘I have to catch it, I have to catch it,’” he said. “It was a good snap, so that was good. I knew that once I got the ball, I had to kick it as far as I could. So I caught it and let it loose.”
Blair unleashed a beauty. The ball traveled 48 yards. When Ridley returner Ociele Miller grabbed the ball on the bounce, he had nowhere to run. The Green Raiders started their final drive on their 43-yard line, then promptly fumbled the snap on the ensuing play. Haverford lineman Tim Campli jumped on top of the loose ball.
Game over. Haverford, which lost its first two games last season, improved to 2-0 (1-0 Central League).
This game was won by the Haverford defense. After the game, Gallagher led his squad into a “t-o-u-g-h (built Ford) tough” chant.
“Last week was all about the defense, too, believe it or not,” Gallagher said in reference to the Fords’ 40-6 rout of Chester. “So what I’m finding out is that we can play good defense. You know how football is. If you can play good ‘D’, you’ve got a chance. We’re tough.”
Prior to his game-changing boot, Blair, who is the son of former West Chester University basketball great, Chet Blair, stepped in to break up a pass at the goal line on fourth down with three minutes to go. Haverford regained possession at its own two. Ridley linebacker Sean Crowley tackled Travis Weiss in the end zone for a safety to cut the Haverford lead to 13-9. On the ensuing Ridley possession, Blair intercepted Nick Layden inside the 10-yard line.
“This game was about our whole defense,” Blair said. “In the first half, our offense pulled through .Once we got the lead, our defense settled in.”
Haverford’s defense was buoyed by tremendous performances up front by linemen Campli, Matt Young and Pat Boyle. Linebackers Sean Leyden, Jon Klee and Jordan Mosley (more on him in a minute) also gave a strong effort.
“When the offense is struggling, like it was tonight, we need our defense to step up,” said junior quarterback Jake Ruane, who completed 14 of 24 attempts for 199 yards and a touchdown. “To have them step up the whole second half, like they did, that was huge for us.”
Haverford’s defense limited Ridley to 85 yards of total offense and made three fourth-down stops in the fourth quarter.
“They were great,” Ruane said.
Haverford jumped out to a 6-0 lead when Ruane took a quarterback keeper 37 yards to paydirt. Ridley responded with a 13-play drive capped off by Layden’s 1-yard plunge into the end zone. Haverford struck fast on its next possession. Mosley, a Maryland commit, ran a quick curl route, turned upfield and broke two tackles on the way to a 56-yard touchdown reception to give Haverford the lead for good.
“Our receivers are really good playmakers,” said Ruane, who found six players through the air. Mosley led the way with three catches for 98 yards. Blair added 52 yards on five catches, while Weiss had a pair of receptions for 20 yards. “We’re just trying to get them the ball in the open field and let them make plays.”
Ridley (1-1, 0-1) ran the ball 45 times for 168 yards. Kamal Richardson amassed a team-high 71 yards on 13 carries, while Miller rattled off 55 yards on 10 tries. Layden chipped in with 52 yards on 13 carries.
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