CONCORD >> Garnet Valley defensive back Kevin Doherty never had two interceptions in a game before Thursday night.
He got a third pick late in the fourth quarter of the Jaguars’ 28-13 Central League victory over Haverford … but it was nullified due to a defensive holding infraction.
Nevertheless, Doherty notched two of GV’s three interceptions of Haverford junior quarterback Jake Ruane, who lit up Marple Newtown’s defense to the tune of 276 yards and three touchdowns last week. The Jags’ secondary faced arguably the best passing offense in the county and answered the call.
“All week, our defensive coaches pushed us and our scout team pushed us to be better,” Doherty said. “We play our bend-but-don’t-break defense. No big plays. We did a good job with it.”
In a battle of Central League unbeatens, the Jaguars played a perfect game … or as close to perfection as you’re going to see at the high school level.
“We knew it was a great challenge,” GV coach Mike Ricci said. “We knew they would be very good. They execute that offense really well, but we also have a belief in our guys. The front four did a really good job getting pressure on the quarterback, and our coverage I thought was really good all night.”
GV’s defensive front — buoyed by linebacker Zach Shankle, as well as linemen Josh Ciarrocchi and Cade Brennan, made life miserable for Ruane and the Fords, who were tackled in the backfield on five occasions. Ruane was 20-for-33 with 223 yards and two TDs, but Haverford’s offense did most of its damage in the fourth quarter when Garnet Valley had a 28-7 lead. Haverford’s seldom-used run offense was limited to 19 yards on 12 attempts.
“We did what we needed to do in the second half, but that deficit in the first half was just too big,” said Haverford’s Jordan Mosley, who had 10 catches for 133 yards. “We didn’t really have the chance to come all the way back.”
That’s because the Garnet Valley offense was brutually dominant. It’s no surprise that the Jags (6-0, 5-0) love to run the ball — and they followed that plan literally all night. All 71 offensive snaps were designed runs. Behind a stellar offensive line of Kyle McCullough, Jake Erley, Tom Mahoney, Ryan Shomo, and Esso Adigwe, the Jaguars amassed 380 yards and four TDs on the ground. Danny Guy and Matt Lassik were the star rushers. Guy ran for 220 yards and three TDs, while Lassik chipped in with 125 yards and a score.
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) September 28, 2017
Haverford’s athletic front seven had no answer for Garnet Valley’s ground-and-pound objective.
“They’re all physical up front, they don’t give up on a play and they just keep pushing,” Guy said of his offensive linemen.
McCullough knew the Fords defensive unit would present a tall task.
“They were playing with us, they were good. But we just stuck to our game plan,” he said. “We knew we weren’t going to pass too much coming into
the game because we are a running team. We just wanted to ground-and-pound.”
A Garnet Valley fumble set up a Ruane touchdown pass to Jon Klee, who made a diving catch in the corner of the end zone to give Haverford a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Garnet Valley (6-0, 5-0) answered with a 14-play drive that resulted in Guy’s first scoring run. Ciarrochi intercepted Ruane on Haverford’s next possession, then Lassik sprinted 28 yards to paydirt to put the Jags ahead, 14-7. Guy added a 16-yard scoring scamper with a minute to go in the first half.
GV began the third quarter with a 74-yard drive, capped by Guy’s third touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Ruane connected with Carington Hooks for a five-yard touchdown pass to make it a two-score game. But Garnet Valley chewed eight minutes of clock on its next drive to end all hope of a Haverford (5-1, 4-1) rally.
“I think (the defeat) humbled us,” Mosley said. “Now we know it’s not going to be a cakewalk.”