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Folk gets foot down, Episcopal takes a big step to 6-0

Episcopal Academy's Malcolm Folk picks up yards off a first-quarter pass Saturday against Malvern Prep. (Nate Heckenberger/For Digital First Media)

PHILADELPHIA — Malcolm Folk still could not process what he had done and what had transpired in the hectic final moments Saturday.

He knew he caught the game’s winning touchdown with 32 seconds left. He knew his defense held on three shots at the end zone. But still, even after the celebration, it all seemed a blur.

“He put it up there and I just made a play,” Folk, the Episcopal Academy wide receiver said of quarterback Maurcus McDaniel. “I give all the credit to him, the man upstairs. It’s crazy. It’s still unreal to me.”

Episcopal Academy beat Penn Charter 21-17 in an absolute thriller in the teams’ Inter-Ac League opener. The Churchmen, now 6-0 overall, grabbed the lead on McDaniel’s 14-yard scoring pass to Folk in the game’s waning seconds. The Quakers (5-1) connected on a 51-yard pass to get to EA’s 17-yard line with 14 seconds remaining.

Then…

Incomplete. Incomplete. Incomplete. Each Kyle Jones pass fell to the turf, including the final heave that multiple receivers had a shot at. It set off a raucous on-field party for the Churchmen and gave the program its first victory over Penn Charter since 2014.

“I’m just happy for everybody,” said McDaniel, who rushed for 143 yards and passed for 115. “We were working for this all week, and we knew that it was going to come down to a one-possession game at the end of the game. I was just glad for my guys and I was really happy that everyone could enjoy this moment.”

It took some work getting there. EA was down 10 points early in the fourth quarter. It had the ball at the Penn Charter 3-yard line. Four consecutive runs were stuffed. The game looked bleak. But the defense held, got the offense great field position, and McDaniel’s five-yard burst made it a one-score game with nearly six minutes remaining on the clock.

After a Quakers three-and-out, EA had 3:45 to go and win the game.

Philosophically, that’s what coach Todd Fairlie was trying to do. He did not want to play for the tie; Penn Charter had been cramping all second half. The Churchmen got to the 14, surviving a play without McDaniel (“a stinger,” he said) along the way, and called time out.

Then they won the game.

Fairlie appropriately summed it up: “Those two just made incredible plays.”

EA had run the play earlier in the contest, but it didn’t quite work. It was all about getting a mismatch for another try.

Folk, in motion, ran a go route from the slot. McDaniel put it up for him in the back of the end zone. He jumped, got a foot down. There was a beat. The referee signaled touchdown. Bedlam in East Falls.

The play call was one thing, the connection between these two is another. McDaniel knew where he was going in that spot.

“Malcolm told me, if No. 7 (Penn Charter’s Aaron Maione) is on him, just give him a chance, he’s going to make it,” McDaniel said. “So that’s what I did.”

McDaniel didn’t see the catch, but he didn’t need to. The crowd told him what happened. Folk looked at the big picture. The win was great. Beating these Quakers means something. It’s a task EA has not done of late. Now that they have, the Churchmen can sense something brewing.

“We haven’t beaten Penn Charter in a while, so for us to beat Penn Charter today it’s like a big weight off our shoulders right now,” Folk said. “It’s definitely a big confidence boost for us going into the rest of the week.”

McDaniel’s five-yard run on the final play of the first quarter had put the Churchmen on the board. Penn Charter answered on Jones’ three-yard spurt and Ryan Bradby’s 43-yard field goal in the second quarter. Chandler Turner, spelling the injured and dynamic Matt Marshall, raced 32 yards to the house to open the third quarter.

EA was in a bind, down 17-7 at that point. The Churchmen hung in, and eventually found a way to win, getting to 6-0 for the first time since 2012.

That done, Fairlie was quick to note that this league win is just one win. Another undefeated team, Springside Chestnut Hill, awaits them.

“The way we run it, every game’s like a playoff,” Fairlie explained. “We have a great game next week. And, you know, you’ve got to play good football every week. We have a great, loving group of kids that love each other, care for each other. It’s been fun. We’re not looking toward the last game of the year because we have a long way to go.”

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