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Bad snap more than half bad for Haverford School

HAVERFORD >> Thirteen seconds separated Haverford School from entering halftime Saturday trailing Imhotep Charter by only one score.

That narrow a gap would’ve been heartening for the Fords, given the divergent fortunes of the programs in the first halves of their seasons.

But with one bad snap, and the compounding momentum of the second-half kickoff, that all changed.

A botched punt snap helped the Panthers close out the first half with a touchdown; by the time Haverford saw the ball again, it trailed by three scores in what would go down as a 42-14 loss.

The game flipped on a bad snap from the Fords’ 27 with 30 seconds to go to the half that punter Jack Denious had to drop to a knee to field, leading to a turnover on downs. Three plays later, Imhotep quarterback Jalen Sutton-Christian found Tykee Smith on a 14-yard score to set the halftime margin at 21-7.

Add a 55-yard burst from running back Isheem Young on the first play of the third quarter and the Fords had dug an inescapable 28-7 hole.

“I think we felt really good going into halftime that we could come out and win the football game,” Haverford quarterback Ben Gerber said. “That kind of thing happens.”

What didn’t happen quite enough for the Fords (1-4) was momentum on offense. They were limited to 157 yards, nearly half via long touchdown connections between Gerber and Nate Whitaker (54 yards) and Bryce Broadus (23). They punted seven times and didn’t sustain a drive until a 15-play, 85-yard scoring march that killed nine minutes of the fourth quarter. Even that drive was aided by three first downs via Panthers’ penalties.

The Fords tried to establish the running game, but it didn’t get far. Jordan Berry pounded the ball 24 times for just 41 yards, and the team totaled 28 rushing yards on 36 carries.

“We were grinding the running game out,” Gerber said. “Jordan worked really hard, he got beat up a lot. He got us some really good grind yards, and we got the effort we wanted. It was a great effort from the offensive line, from Jordan, from everyone. Give Imhotep credit: They played us really well.”

“It takes a good practice,” Imhotep defensive end Kamal Harrison said. “Practice makes perfect, and our coaches did a perfect job this week. Their gameplan, I knew the play every time before they called it.”

It didn’t hurt that once Imhotep (5-1) got the ball, it was never far from the end zone. Saturday’s offensive performance ran hot and cold, as five punts attest, but the Panthers produced game-changing plays.

After being pinned at the 2 by a Denious punt in the third quarter, the Panthers used six plays to cover 98 yards, the last a 50-yard hookup between Sutton-Christian and Yusuf Terry. Carl Jones, who finished with 110 yards on 10 carries, iced the game with a 70-yard score 19 seconds after Broadus’ score.

“At halftime, we came out with composure,” Sutton-Christian said. “We came out and did what we needed to do. The defense stood its ground. My o-line did what it had to do, and that’s why we won that game.”

Sutton-Christian completed 11 of 19 attempts for 190 yards. He found seven receivers; Smith (three catches for 70 yards) and Terry (two for 74) scored. Young rushed nine times for 93 yards, including first-quarter touchdowns of two and 11 yards to stake the Panthers to a 14-0 lead.

Gerber was 12-for-24 for 129 yards, and the junior’s ability to further grow his rapport with a young cast of skill-position players bodes well as Inter-Ac play beckons after a bye week.

“The O-line did a great job,” Gerber said. “Those guys on Imhotep’s defensive line, they’re fast, they had a very fast rush. The line gave me a lot of time. The receivers ran under the ball and made some really nice catches.”

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