HAVERFORD >> Jake Ruane was waiting all morning for the play that unfolded to start the fourth quarter Thursday.
He didn’t know when it was going to happen — or even if it would — but he was determined to be patient and wait for it.
So when he lined up to start the final frame of a tie game with Upper Darby and looked to his left, he saw it.
There was his favorite receiver — Jordan Mosley, a senior, playing his final game before heading to the University of Maryland — in man-to-man coverage, for the first time all day.
“We saw it and we knew we had to go for it,” Ruane said.
And go for it they did. Mosley ran a fade pattern, and Ruane found him for what would be the winning score in the 14-7 Haverford victory in the 96th annual Turkey Bowl between the Central League rivals.
The 12-yard touchdown pass was the only time in the game Mosley wasn’t double-covered.
“We got lucky on that play,” said Haverford coach Joe Gallagher. “They had a guy over the top of Mosley the whole game. That was the one time they didn’t, and it was fortunate for us that it worked out.”
Upper Darby (6-5, 5-4 Central), utilized its four weeks without playoff football to prepare for Haverford by installing a defensive scheme that would take away the strengths of the Haverford offense.
“I have to give them a lot of credit,” Gallagher said. “It took us until midway through the second quarter to figure out what they were doing defensively. They played a scheme we had never seen before and they played it really well.”
Normally lining up in a 4-3 defense, Upper Darby made a radical switch to a 3-5 formation that allowed one safety to roll over the top of Mosley’s routes and allowed two linebackers to shift with the Haverford receivers in motion to take away the jet sweep.
“I have to give my kids a lot of credit,” said Upper Darby coach Rich Gentile. “We threw something at them they had never done before, and they picked it up right away.
“Their skill players are such athletes that we were tired of being beaten by them and by the jet sweep. We did a great job taking that away, and when they adjusted to what we were doing we could switch back to our normal defense to counter that as well.”
It was a game of field position as Haverford (9-3, 7-2) had a hard time getting the passing game going against the hybridized Royals defense.
“They’re a physical team and they knew we like to throw the ball and they did a great job of taking away what we do well,” Ruane said. “So we had to switch it up and attack them with the run.”
Specifically, the Fords turned to the read option, which Ruane ran to near perfection. He did a great job of keeping the ball in the belly of his runners, all the while reading the Upper Darby edge rushers. If they committed to the hand off, Ruane would keep the ball and take off himself. He ended up rushing 13 times for 69 yards.
After throwing an interception and punting twice, Haverford was able to get on the scoreboard in the second quarter with an 80-yard drive that ended with a one-yard plunge by Jon Klee.
The Royals answered with their lone scoring drive of the game, a 63-yard drive that ended when quarterback Josh Gouch called his own number, rumbled 13 yards and then fumbled on the one-yard line.
The ball bounded into the end zone where Gouch was able to recover his own fumble, allowing the Royals to tie the score.
The second half was again a battle of field position, but this was when Haverford’s defense stiffened. Although Gouch and running backs Quaran Davis and Justin O’Donnell were able to pick up a bunch of yards on the ground, Gouch was picked off three times in the second half — twice inside the Fords’ 20-yard line — preventing the tying score.
Mosley had a third-quarter pick, but it was Trey Blair’s interception on the 4-yard line and Bryant Leschak’s subsequent pick on the 10 on the final Upper Darby drive that preserved the victory.
“It’s a great way to end the season for our team and our seniors,” Gallagher said. “They played a great game on defense and they deserved the win.”
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