Malvern Prep thwarted by powerful St. Joe Prep

VILLANOVA – Overall record aside, St. Joseph’s Prep has one of the state’s most powerful football teams and the Hawks flexed their muscles against Malvern Prep on Friday at festive Villanova Stadium.

With a sub-.500 mark that is due exclusively to playing a highly ambitious schedule filled with national powerhouses, St. Joe’s Prep rolled up 462 yards and cruised past the outmanned, but game, Friars, 49-28. In fact, this nonleague clash was SJP’s first opponent this season from the state of Pennsylvania.

“We can learn from this,’ said Malvern head coach Aaron Brady. “I am proud of our kids. We asked them not to give up and they didn’t. (St. Joe’s Prep) does a great job. It’s a great program. They are a couple years ahead of us in development.’

The Friars (2-3 overall) simply could not stop the Hawks (2-3). In the first half alone, the Malvern defense did not force a single punt, surrendered 325 yards and 42 points.

“You have to give credit to them,’ Brady said. “They have a lot of playmakers, they made plays and we didn’t when we needed to other than the one interception. That was a big play for us.’

Already ahead 7-0, St. Joe’s Prep blocked a Malvern punt, and runner D’Andre Swift scored on a 16-yard reception on the next play to increase the lead. The Friars came back to make it 13-7 thanks the key interception near the end zone by senior safety James Keating. He returned 50-plus yards, and then moments later, quarterback Alex Hornibrook scored on a keeper.

“I just read the QB, a saw the ball and just jumped in and made the play,’ Keating said.

The Hawks registered TDs on their next three possessions, however, to take command. Malvern tried to grab a little momentum at the end of the half when Trevor Morris broke loose for a 70-yard scoring connection from Hornibrook, but SJP had a short field thanks to a botched onside kick, and Olamide Zaccheaus notched his second touchdown of the day with less than a minute remaining to make it 42-14 at the break.

“The coaches kept saying at halftime: ‘ you are going to face adversity and respond to it,” Hornibrook recalled. “And don’t give up. That was the message and for the most part, we didn’t do that.’

In fact, Malvern outscored St. Joe’s 14-7 in the final half, and the yardage numbers were very close. But after scoring on its first possession of the third quarter, the Hawks began substituting liberally. The Friars last two TDs came in the fourth quarter on a catch by Zac Fernandez and a run by Oshaan Allison.

In Malvern’s previous clash on Sept. 20, it fell to powerful La Salle, 27-8. La Salle and St. Joe’s Prep will square off next week in a showdown of epic proportion.

“We will not see anybody like these two teams the rest of our season,’ Brady predicted. “We have to find positives in everything we do. Tonight we got some positive things done in the second half.

“They are both great teams and it should be something next week when they play each other.’

For Malvern, it may wind up being great preparation for the rigors of the Inter-Ac, which gets underway next weekend. The Friars open against Haverford School.

“We never stopped playing and that will carry us on for the rest of the season. Our league starts next week and that’s what is important to us,’ Brady said.

“(La Salle and SJP) are two great teams but we never quit and we just have to learn from our mistakes,’ Keating added. “Our next game against Haverford School is our most important game.

“We didn’t get the result we wanted tonight. You have to play your best against a team like that if you expect to win.’

Hornibrook was 15 of 24 for 200 yards, and Anthony Pacitti paced the Malvern rushing attack with 60 yards on 10 carries.

“We have a lot of room to improve,’ Hornibrook said. “I think everybody knows that but there were some positives.

“In the second half we were just trying to put the ball in the air and keep things moving and that’s what we did.’

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