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Ruane, Lower Merion turnovers undercut Aces’ upset attempt of Haverford

By Jack Keffer
For Digital First Media

LOWER MERION >> Late in the 3rd quarter, on a 2nd and 12 from his 38, Lower Merion’s Jalen Goodman took 10 steps out and cut hard to his right, briefly losing Haverford High defender Shane Mosley to catch a wobbling pass from Matt O’Connor.

Goodman reeled it in and headed upfield, breaking one tackle and lowering his shoulder into the safety Trey Blair. The two ran each other out of bounds and hit the turf hard. Goodman popped straight up and into Blair’s face, offering the message, “You can’t touch me.”

The very next play, O’Connor’s pass was deflected and intercepted by Blair.

That sequence defined Lower Merion’s 28-12 loss to Haverford Saturday. By all means, the Aces are a team trying to break away from historical struggles, and throughout this game they showed promise. But good teams like the Fords turn mistakes into points, and the offensive duo of Jake Ruane and Chasen Wint did just that.

Ruane threw for a touchdown and rushed for a pair of scores, including a 16-yard scramble that capped off the opening drive. His second came after the Blair interception.

Meanwhile, Wint plowed through Lower Merion’s defensive line, running for 130 yards on 23 carries. And Beef Wellington, all 130 pounds of him, was perfect on all four PATs.

“We just can’t turn the ball over as much as we did,” O’Connor said. “I think we had three turnovers today and you aren’t going to be able to win football games like that.”

The three turnovers O’Connor referred to are the three interceptions he threw, but by no means were they bad passes. The senior quarterback was under pressure all game, forced to make throws out of the pocket.

All three were deflected by Fords defensive linemen, who held the Aces to just 25 rushing yards.

“Our coach (Joe Gallagher) said we needed to calm down (defensively) and make sure everything was good,” Mosley said. “One thing we did do, our defensive backs moved up so (Lower Merion’s) hitches weren’t good.”

When asked about Goodman?

“He’s my boy,” Mosley said with a laugh. “It’s definitely very competitive because that’s my boy.”

The smack talk wasn’t the only heated moment of the afternoon. With five seconds to go before the half and Haverford up 14-0, Ruane’s pass was almost intercepted by Marcus Green. A horn caused confusion, and the clock blunder allowed for one last play before the half. This time, Ruane connected with Mosley, and Haverford (3-1, 2-1) went into the locker room up three touchdowns.

Another instance came late in the fourth quarter on fourth and 12, when O’Connor connected with Jalen Helton, who beat a defender and scored. That was negated due to a questionable holding call on Green. On the second attempt, Mosley swatted a pass intended for Goodman.

“Tough breaks today with .1 seconds left on the clock and they (Haverford) score, but we have to stop them,” Lower Merion coach Evan Breisblatt said. “We have to man-up and stop them. Then we get a score late in the game and we get called for holding.

“That’s how they (the referees) saw it and it is what it is.”

Despite the Aces turnovers, O’Connor threw for 237 yards and completed 21 passes on 36 attempts, 15 of which came in the second half. The wide receiving quartet of Helton, Green, and the Goodman brothers (Ian and Jalen) combined for 20 catches, 245 yards, and a passing touchdown (to Helton).

“We have the best wide receiving core in the league,” O’Connor said. “They are fast, tough, and they make plays. They are explosive.”

The Aces are 0-4. Yet there is talent, there is promise, and there is a lot of football left to play.

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