EAST MARLBOROUGH — As if going on the road to take on the defending District 5A champions wasn’t challenging enough, the Haverford football team faced additional off-the-field hurdles on Friday. But the Fords successfully navigated through it all and emerged with a well-earned 42-27 nonleague win at Unionville.
First there were travel and logistical issues just getting to the venue, followed by a predictably slow start. Haverford managed to overcome it all, however, thanks to a big-play offense that featured two scoring plays of more than 80 yards and a critical pick-six by the defense.
“We needed all of the big plays,” said Fords’ head coach Joe Gallagher. “Unionville didn’t make it easy. Fortunately, we have kids who can make plays. We’re lucky to have them.”
Now 5-1 overall, Haverford endured a lot before even arriving at Unionville.
“Our bus broke down on the way,” Gallagher said. “It ended up being a 90 minute ride total. We had to get a new bus. That was very distracting.”
The Fords arrived late, of course, had to scramble just to get warm ups in, and at one point were nudged to one end of the field for the pregame performance by the band.
“We were rushed and a little unfocused early on because of everything,” Gallagher acknowledged. “So I have to give my kids a lot of credit for overcoming that. We settled down in the second half and made big plays.”
The setback halted the Indians two-game winning streak heading into next week’s rivalry with upstart Kennett. Unionville is 2-4 overall.
“There is no margin for error against good teams,” said Indians’ head coach Pat Clark.
“We just weren’t able to overcome (Haverford’s) big plays. I thought our kids played with tremendous effort against a quality opponent, but a few mistakes got us. It wasn’t an effort thing but we have to sharpen our mental focus some times.”
In a clash that produced 69 combined points, there were a lot of impactful moments, but one stretch was paramount. It came early in the second half when Haverford scored 15 points in just a few seconds, turning a 13-13 tie into what wound up being the final margin of victory.
“That was the turning point,” said Fords’ junior receiver Trey Blair.
“In the blink of an eye it was a two-score game,” added quarterback Jake Ruane, who threw for 219 yards, ran for 90 and accounted for four of his team’s five TDs. “That gave us so much momentum.”
It started with a slant completion from Ruane to Blair, who caught it and raced untouched 85 yards for the score. And then on the very next play from scrimmage, Haverford cornerback Shane Mosley stepped in front of a dangerous pass in the flat, picked it off and waltzed into the end zone from 27 yards.
“(Unionville) decided to go man-to-man on us with no safety, and Jake (Ruane) trusted our athletes and you saw what happened: a big play,” said Blair who had three receptions for 117 yards. “And then on the next play, Shane Mosely made a big play.”
The Indians regrouped by taking advantage of a short punt, and pulled within one score at 28-20 after Nick Schnaars scored on a 13-yard run with 10:48 to go, but the Fords bounced right back on the ensuing kickoff. Eric McCallion’s 43-yard return set up a short TD run by Ruane, and then Haverford closed it out on a 10-yard scoring run by Chasen Wint with 3:10 on the clock.
“We had a rough first half but we came out Delco-tough in the second half,” Blair said.
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