NEWTOWN TWP. >> Sean Mullarkey couldn’t put into words what just happened.
“I actually think I am in a dream right now,” the Radnor High quarterback said. “I don’t know what to say.”
Mullarkey connected with Jahmair Rider coming across the middle in the second overtime of Friday’s Central League opener with Marple Newtown. Moments earlier, kicker Jimmy O’Brien drilled a 22-yard field goal to give the host Tigers a three-point advantage.
Mullarkey and Rider knew they had four tries to get into the end zone and walk-off one of the program’s greatest wins this decade.
All it took was one shot.
“It was an RPO (run-pass-option),” Mullarkey said. “I knew I had the fastest kid in the county, so obviously I was going to him. I faked it, threw it and obviously (Rider) caught it. It was amazing.”
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) September 1, 2018
Mullarkey threw a perfect strike to Rider in the end zone. The celebration that followed was well-deserved. Radnor had defeated Marple Newtown, 27-24.
“I knew the guy covering wasn’t ready from the time he first lined up,” said Rider, who had seven catches for 82 yards. “I took the first step out and then cut it back in and there was no one there. I was all alone.”
Ryan, his voice cracking, told his cheering players in the post-game huddle that this is a game they should cherish forever.
“This is why you coach high school football,” he said.
And it was the type of gut-check win against a good team that Radnor (2-0, 1-0) desperately needed. Friday’s victory over the Tigers, who captured a piece of the league crown in 2016 and were a District 1 Class 5A playoff semi-finalist last year, is a statement.
“We’ve been working our butts off to try and do something special this year,” said Mullarkey, who completed 13 of 23 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
Down 14-7 in the fourth quarter, facing a third-and-long, Mullarkey hooked up with Vernon Harper in the end zone to tie the score. Radnor’s defense, meanwhile, was sensational the entire way. The Raiders swarmed to the backfield and made life miserable for All-Delco running back Marlon Weathers, who had a quiet 85 yards on 24 totes. Up front, the Raiders simply were the more physical and dominant team. Linebacker Taylor Margolis had a nose for the ball all night and was involved in a slew of tackles. Other standouts included linemen Nick Scheri, Aidan Dunn and Ifeyan Gavin.
The 6-1, 265-pound Gavin also was called upon twice at the goal line to run the football. He scored Radnor’s first touchdown, a three-yard plunge in the first quarter, then got another carry in the overtime session.
“We wanted to smack them as hard as we can on every play,” Margolis said. “We just knew we had to swarm to the ball on every play.”
Matt Cohen, who was a workhorse all night, scored from two-yards out to give Radnor a 21-14 advantage in the first overtime. Cohen finished with 154 yards on 26 carries.
Marple Newtown (1-1, 0-1) kept the game alive when on fourth-and-15 quarterback Brian Joslin (6-for-14, 72 yards) found 6-4, 180-pound senior wide receiver Colin Ferry in the end zone. After O’Brien made the point-after try, the Tigers received the ball first in the second OT but were held to three points. A key play came when Weathers received a toss on first down and tackled for a five-yard loss.
“We’ve been saying it all year, this is a special group. We have 25 seniors,” Ryan said. “They waited their turn … and this group really likes each other.”
The Raiders outgained the Tigers on offense, 348-152.
“Both sides of the ball, we have so many guys with varsity experience,” Ryan said. “We practice tackling everyday, hawk tackling, and these guys have bought into the concept of it. … The front six and really the whole defense has come together and really understands the way we want to play.”