Emotional Haverford School overcomes Carter’s injury

HAVERFORD >> Haverford School started Friday afternoon wondering how they’d cope without a key player against West Catholic.

They left Sabol Field questioning if they’ll have to navigate an extended spell sans their quarterback and leader.
The Fords survived for a 35-13 win over West Catholic. But the result was secondary to the concern on the sidelines for quarterback Kevin Carter, who was carted off with an air cast on his left leg after a scary injury.

Carter was upended by two tacklers on a bootleg off right end with 1 minute, 42 seconds left in the third quarter, crumpling in a heap inches from his sideline and instantly grabbing for his leg. The All-Delco, who’d thrown for 596 yards and seven touchdowns the first two weeks, was 9-for-14 for 137 yards and two scores Friday.

“I can tell you all 10 guys other than Kevin on the field were crying or about to cry, because we just care so much about each other on this team,” linebacker Mickey Kober said.

“The only thing I said to them is that the good news is that bones are fixable,” coach Mike Murphy said. “If there’s anything about injuries like that, bones are fixable. And who knows, this year or next year, he’ll be back and he’ll play football again. If there’s any positive side, it’s that.”

The sight of Carter being wheeled off left the sideline visibly shaken, but undeterred. West Catholic trimmed the lead to 21-13 just 47 seconds into the fourth quarter when Joshua Evans hit Jameer Bryson on a 33-yard touchdown.

But two plays later, Malik Twyman took a handoff from backup Tommy Toal and busted it up the gut for 69 yards and a score.

In place of jubilation, there was a sense of relief from the impending doom that settled in after Carter’s injury. And instead of high fives, there were hand signals of Carter’s number, “1-7”.

“Automatically, I just looked at my team and I was like, we’ve got to do it for Kev,” Twyman said. “As soon as he got hurt, everyone had tears in their eyes, and I was like, just channel that emotion. We’ve got to use that.”

“That was the turning point of the game, in my mind,” Toal said. “If (Twyman) doesn’t make that play, I don’t know how the game finishes. He really stepped up and he was really emotional after that play, and big props to him.”

Toal deputized admirably, leading a pair of scoring marches in the Fords’ 12th straight win. After West turned the ball over on downs at the 38, Toal orchestrated a 10-play, 72-yard march that drained the clock. He tossed completions of 24 yards to Andrew Fine and 22 to Will Towle before escaping a tackler and covering the final three yards on the ground.

The shock of Carter’s injury overshadowed myriad subplots in play Friday. The Fords (3-0) were without All-Delco receiver/defensive back/punter Dox Aitken due to illness. They also sought to rectify the lone blemish on their outstanding 2014 campaign — a 24-19 setback to West Catholic in Week 1.

Friday was the fifth straight year the Fords have entertained the Burrs, and the thought of seniors like Kober never having vanquished an opponent were too unpalatable to stand.

“We let West Catholic off the hook two years in a row,” he said. “For the seniors, this was a huge game. … The motto of the week on defense was ‘no escape.’ They’re in our house; we haven’t lost in a long time on our home field, and it was just to get after it.”

Kober forced the first of six turnovers, stepping in front of an Evans pass and setting up the Fords’ first score, a Twyman one-yard run after Carter hooked up with Keyveat Postell for 25 yards.

Kober, Aaron Hudson and Dahmir Ruffin hauled in interceptions in a first half where Evans completed more throws to Fords (three) than Burrs (two). West’s only score of the first was set up by a Carter fumble at his goal line, allowing Calil Wortham to punch it in.

The Burrs appeared destined to score midway through the third, as the passing game clicked, but Wortham fumbled in the end zone and Forry Smith emerged from the pile with the pigskin.

Despite throwing for 151 yards after halftime, Evans was picked off by Postell with 90 seconds left, allowing Toal to lead a decidedly bittersweet victory formation.

“All we can do is say prayers at this point,” Kober said. “… It’s one man, we love him and he’s a great player, probably one of the best captains on the team, one of the best kids in this school to be around, and it’s just tragic to go down with an injury.”

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