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Trickery pays off for Springside Chestnut Hill against Haverford School

Haverford School receiver Jake Spence, in action against Malvern Prep last week, returned a punt for a score Saturday in the Fords' 27-24 loss to Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)
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HAVERFORD – Springside Chestnut Hill Academy quarterback Aaron Angelos wasn’t having the best of first halves Saturday afternoon.

For many passing attacks, that would be the final word on the situation. But for the Blue Devils, there are ways to get around a slumping QB. With plenty of chicanery and a surge from Angelos, SCHA found just enough offense.

Three Blue Devils threw touchdown passes Saturday in a come-from-behind 27-24 win over Haverford School. Pat Elliott tossed a three-yarder to Angelos in SCHA’s homage to the Eagles’ Philly Special. Wide receiver Ke’Shawn Williams found Brian Richardson on a 16-yard score. And Angelos got in on the act, zipping a 52-yard catch and run to Richardson with 3:28 to play, the tight end bouncing off tacklers and running into the end zone for the game-winning score.

“I’m not a quarterback, so it was a lot of concentration,” Williams said of his touchdown throw. “I had to make sure I got the perfect ball to my receiver. I took a hit, but as long as I put it on the money, my guy Brian is going to get it no matter where it was.”

Haverford School had a chance to tie the game with 55 seconds left, but Chris Clark’s field goal from 36 yards drifted wide left, his third missed field goal of the day.

Both teams knew that Saturday could come down to trick plays. Haverford School (3-5, 1-3 Inter-Ac) prepared for gadget plays all week, making the failure to read and execute on them all the more disappointing. And the Blue Devils (6-4, 1-3) understood that if plan A faltered, they could rifle through their bag of tricks for alternatives.

“They don’t see it coming,” Williams said. “If we score a regular touchdown running, it’s like, ‘dang, they just didn’t tackle us.’ But us faking them out, them getting tricked out, made it even better of a play.”

“We trip up on that, we’ve got to guard on that better and limit the trick plays,” Haverford School lineman Asim Richards said. “… We worked on it all week in practice and then they scored on it anyway. It felt bad.”

The teams combined for 24 points in the fourth quarter after just 27 in a ragged first three frames. The sides totaled 12 punts, nine in the first half.

The opening 24 minutes wasn’t pretty for the signal-callers. Angelos and Haverford School’s Dante Perri entered the break a combined 8-for-23 for 44 yards, but each rose to the occasion after the break.

Perri finished 13-for-27 for 173 yards. He tossed a pair of key third-down hookups with Bryce Broadus in the fourth – a 15-yarder that set up Logan Keller’s 8-yard score to make it 24-20 with 4:58 left, and a 45-yarder to Broadus to rescue the final series.

Haverford School’s first-half damage was done mostly by return man Jake Spencer. He returned the opening kickoff 42 yards, and two plays later, Mekhi Ajose-Williamson was in the end zone on a 23-yard burst. Two punts later, Spencer burst through a crowd to return it 70 yards to the house. He had 119 punt return yards in the first half.

That papered over rickety offensive execution from the Fords, who finally got on track in the second half via Keller and Nate Whitaker on the ground. Keller escaped a pile of tacklers for 38 yards on third-and-1 to set up Clark’s field goal from 21 yards with 10:25 to play, which put the Fords up 17-13. Whitaker supplied runs of nine and 11 on the drive capped by Keller’s score, to go with five catches for 51 yards.

“That was exciting,” said Richards, who provided two sacks on defense. “We really felt like a team, getting different players the ball. But we’ve got to do more of that so that we can win a game.”

Clark was just wide with his fourth field goal attempt of the day. The others, efforts from 50 and 46 yards with a stiff wind at his back, weren’t close. But he had the distance on the final kick on fourth-and-6 from the 19, but couldn’t sneak it inside the left upright.

SCHA made better use of its options on the day. Rob Gentile ran for 120 of his 134 yards in the first half, giving way to others after the break. Williams ran for a 13-yard score before they took to the air for the last two touchdowns.

To Williams’ dismay, Richardson offered that of his two scores, Angelos’ delivery was more spot on, while Williams is quick to point out that he had the benefit of throwing to his best available target in Richardson – that is, the second-best overall, behind himself.

They’re the kind of joking debates that sound a lot better when there’s finally a one in the Inter-Ac win column.

“We worked hard in practice all week with it,” Richardson said. “We just wanted it. We know this is a bounce-back game and we needed it here, so we put it all on the line.”

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