Donaghy gets a kick out of Haverford’s victory

HAVERFORD >> Following Haverford High’s 21-12 home victory over Chester Friday night, a Fords assistant walked past a statuesque Jack Donaghy, who stood among a throng of teammates.

“Hey Jack,” the coach said. “Can I get a ride home tonight? You’ve done everything else.”

“No,” Donaghy laughed. “I didn’t drive.”

Friday night, the senior quarterback — although it’s not right to pigeon-hole the young man — gave life to clichés. Donaghy did everything it took to lead the Fords (1-1) to victory.

He connected on 13 of 19 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns — a screen pass to Kareem Bernard to open the scoring in the first quarter; a rollout dart to Bernard to make it 14-6; a 77-yard catch-and-run bomb to Chris Trainor to effectively seal the game in the second half — a hat trick of terrific throws.

“It’s great playing with him,” said Mike Romanofsky, who finished with 73 yards receiving. “You know you’ve got one of the best quarterbacks around.”

And maybe one of the best kickers too. When Evan Boyce was injured in the first quarter, Donaghy took over kicking duties. He nailed all three extra points, each punctuated with a celebratory jump into his jubilant sideline.

“It’s a different part of the game,” Donaghy said with a shrug. “It’s cool to have that happen.”

Don’t let the post-kick antics fool you. Donaghy is as cool as it gets on the gridiron. His demeanor stems from three years of experience behind center for the Fords. As a freshman, he was thrust into a District One Class AAAA playoff game when starter Eddie Durkin went down with a broken hand. All Donaghy did was go 8-for-18 for 116 yards and a touchdown against a loaded Central Bucks South team.

“It’s definitely a big part of (my success),” said Donaghy of his wealth of experience. “It’s who I am. I do whatever it takes to win a football game.”

Against a stout Clippers team, he lived up to that mantra. With 6:12 left on the clock and Haverford facing a fourth-and-11 from Chester’s 41, Donaghy begged Fords coach Joe Gallagher to stay on the field; not to go for a first down, but to punt.

“I said, ‘Gal, I got this. Let me do this,’” Donaghy said. He promptly pinned the Clippers at their seven with a 34-yard boot.

But the game wasn’t over and neither was Donaghy. On third-and-two from the Fords’ 42-yard-line, Bernard fumbled at the end of a short gain. Chester’s Amaru Muhammad scooped the ball up and sprinted away with nothing but turf ahead of him. Donaghy — you can see where this is going — chased him down and delivered a perfect tackle.

“They weren’t scoring,” he said.

Romanofsky intercepted a Nahmir Ishmail pass to ensure the score held up. It was the last of a series of self-inflicted errors by the Clippers. As good as Donaghy was Friday, Chester (0-2) nearly matched him and the Fords.

As a team the Clippers rushed for 201 yards led by Ed Nelson Jr.’s 96. Jaquan Flood and Arlo Lee Jr. each found the end zone on the ground. On defense, Temple-bound defensive tackle D’Andre Dill sacked Donaghy twice and helped limit the Fords to 35 yards rushing. But two fumbles and that interception, not to mention 70 yards in penalties, doomed the Clippers who have now dropped two close games in a row to start their season.

“We could be 2-0,” said Nelson. “We need to work a little harder, come together.”

Chester is tough and will be a force in the Del Val League for the first time in years. They don’t have a Donaghy, though. Then again, few do.

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