HAVERFORD — Jack Donaghy had one of those stop-and-smell-the-roses moments after Friday night’s 17-8 victory over Ridley.
Here was the junior Haverford High quarterback, receiving high-fives and congratulatory pats on the back, feeling like he was king of the world.
For good reason, too. Not many quarterbacks can claim they have beaten Ridley twice in their careers. Donaghy has a perfect record.
“I think I can speak for the team when I say that we feel like we’re on top of the world,’ he said.
“Maybe not in the District One standings, we’ll see what happens tonight. But it’s definitely awesome beating a team like Ridley. You can’t beat it.’
The District One Class AAAA playoffs? Yeah, that was something Donaghy and the Fords thought about, but weren’t obsessed with. It turned out they were very much alive for a berth in the 16-team tournament, despite last week’s devastating 44-41 defeat to Garnet Valley, a game the Fords let slip away. Losses by Abington and Harry S. Truman enabled the Fords to qualify.
“If we would have lost this game, we would have been really down on ourselves,’ said Donaghy, who showed why he is one of the top quarterbacks in Delco. He finished 7-for-11 with 159 yards and two touchdowns. “With this victory, we’ve built so much confidence coming off that heartbreaking loss last week. It helped everyone.’
Joe Gallagher, who notched his 125th victory as the Fords head coach, didn’t necessarily care about where the Fords potentially fit in the postseason bracket. His team’s undivided attention was on the Green Raiders, who controlled their playoff destiny. All Ridley had to do was beat Haverford to get in.
Surely, it was a topic of discussion that came up during the work week. With some outside assistance, the Fords could make it … but how cool would it be to spoil Ridley’s playoff bid on the final Friday of the regular season for the second year in a row?
“We talked honestly about this,’ Gallagher said. “Our biggest motivation was beating Ridley. The playoffs were a secondary concern, and if that happens it happens. We are still playing one of the best teams in the Central League historically if not the best program. That was really the main thing and then we said, ‘ If we get to the playoffs, hey that’s great.’ It’s still a Central League game and very important to us. Playoffs or not, we want to have a great year.’
Ridley came in with the top run defense in the county, so the Fords allowed Donaghy and wide receiver Nick Costello to do their thing. Last week, they connected six times for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In the first quarter against the Green Raiders, it was more of the same.
One of Donaghy’s best assets as a signal caller is his ability to scramble out of the pocket and keep plays alive with his feet. Donaghy likes to roll left or right and wait until the play develops before deciding to throw the ball away, take a sack or run with the ball. In this particular instance, Donaghy held the ball long to lure Ridley’s defensive backs in, allowing Costello to get wide open. Costello hauled in the pass and went 59 yards for a touchdown to give Haverford a 7-0 advantage. They connected on a 41-yard pass in the third quarter to set up Evan Boyle’s 30-yard field goal.
“I just try and be patient and let things develop. When I let things develop I just try and make a play,’ Donaghy said. “We’ve been playing and throwing passes to each other since fourth-grade flag football. We definitely built a great connection over the past however many years. It’s awesome to have a game’
“We’ve been playing and throwing passes to each other since fourth-grade flag football. We definitely built a great connection over the past however many years. It’s awesome to have a guy like that.’
Donaghy hit Dan Boyle on a quick slant for a 10-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to put the Fords (7-3) in front, 14-0.
Senior linebacker Kevin Maloney and the Fords defense gave an inspired performance one week after struggling to contain Garnet Valley’s high-octane offense. Malik Young, DaSante Callis and the potent Ridley ground attack was limited to 117 yards on 33 carries. Mike Romanofsky came up with a pair of sacks. Alex Mount sealed the deal with an interception.
“We had to finish the game and get back to playing what we know is Haverford defense,’ Maloney said. “We had a good streak for a while — not letting up a lot of yards and not letting people in the end zone — but we lost that against Garnet Valley.’
Haverford’s defensive front constantly pressured quarterback Jake Hoffman, who connected with Tre Hinchey for a 5-yard scoring strike with four minutes to play in regulation for the Green Raiders’ only score.
Ridley let some chances fall by the wayside. A 24-yard field goal attempt by Eddie Fisher was blocked and recovered by Maloney. Some points before halftime could have sparked the Raiders. Ridley lost a fumble on its first drive after halftime.
“They had some opportunities that they took advantage of and we didn’t,’ Ridley coach Dennis Decker said. “I told the kids that if we eliminated the turnovers and took care of special teams, and we didn’t. That’s basically what happened tonight. Our kids didn’t quit, though. As bad as we played in the first half, we came out and battled in the second half and made it a game.’