TREDYFFRIN >> Thursday’s game between Conestoga and Haverford was a defensive struggle waiting for one big play.
It came as Karim Bernard ran 48 yards to set up the only score of the game as the Fords posted a 6-0 Central League victory over the Pioneers.
The game remained scoreless midway through the fourth period when Bernard went around right end and raced down the sideline before being brought down at the Conestoga 15-yard line. Four plays later, Matt Corbett punched it in from the one to give Haverford (3-1, 1-0) the lead.
“Traditionally, our games with Conestoga are just like this,” Haverford coach Joe Gallagher said. “This first league game is huge for us. When we needed guys to make big plays they made them. Credit (defensive coordinator) coach (Dan) Milewski and our defense, to pitch a shutout is a massive effort.”
Conestoga (2-2, 1-1) had a chance to tie the game on its final drive. They drove to the Haverford 40 when on first down, Tim Miller threw deep, but senior defensive back Josh Lafferty made the perfect read and intercepted the pass with 1:31 left to end the game.
“I was thinking I just had to do my job, do everything right, not let the ball get behind me, and I made a good beat on the ball and got the pick,” Lafferty said. “To get a shutout in a game like this against them is the perfect way to start out the Central League. I’m excited where this year could take us.”
Haverford got stopped on fourth down twice in Conestoga’s territory, while the Pioneers got stuffed four times down deep in Haverford’s end.
Both teams’ front sevens were stout, penetrating the line of scrimmage and stopping runners in the backfield.
Conestoga was without leading rusher Corey Manning because of an injury. Evan Tannenbaum took his place and picked up the slack with 103 yards on 26 carries. Miller had an off night, going just 6-for-21 for 65 yards and two interceptions.
“We made way to many mistakes,” Conestoga coach John Vogan said. “Our defense played magnificent, but offensively, we couldn’t finish drives, couldn’t catch passes, we missed blocks. Haverford is very physical and aggressive, we were moving the ball well and Tannenbaum did an outstanding job, but we just didn’t make enough plays to win.”
Conestoga defense did its best to frustrate Haverford QB Jack Donaghy. He still managed to go 10-of-18 for 97 yards.
“It was a dogfight out there,” Donaghy said. “We knew whoever scored first was going to win the game and Karim made a huge play for us. We are definitely pretty high right now but we have a long way to go, we need to get better for Strath Haven next week.”