WEST GROVE—Haverford High came into West Grove on Friday night having just missed out in making the District 1 football playoffs with a 7-3 record, while Avon Grove was looking to end its season on a high note.
The Red Devils turned in one of its best defensive efforts of the season, but the Fords scored a pair of first-half touchdowns, then held on for a 15-7 nonleague victory.
“I don’t think this was one of our best games of the season,” said Fords coach Joe Gallagher. “But give Avon Grove credit, they came here ready to play and we were fortunate to have a couple kids step up and we did what we needed to do to get the ‘W.’”
One thing the Fords (8-3) did very well was thwart the passing attack of Tanner Peck and the Red Devils. Peck came into the game having thrown for over 2,000 yards on the season. Haverford held him to 10 of 25 for 105 yards.
“We knew Peck could throw the ball,” said Gallagher. “We were very conscious of him all week in practice. Our defense really came through for us and kept us in the game until we could make some plays.”
Peck complete 10 passes to five different receivers, but the Fords kept him out of the endzone, save for a 33-yard scoring strike to Nate Jones in the first quarter.
“We watched a lot of film on (Peck) this week,” said Haverford defensive back Chris Lyons. “We were focused on him and just did what we needed to do to get the win tonight.”
Lyons contributed on both sides of the ball. Filling in for injured running back Kevin Leyden, Lyons ran for 73 yardsand caught four passes for another 73 yards, including the game’s final touchdown, a 12-yard strike from QB Jack Donaghy.
“Kevin Leyden might have been the best player in the (Central) league, so to have a guy like Chris come in and step up the way he has is huge,” said Gallagher. “(Running back) Jai Thornton is always going to be a threat, so to have a guy like Chris come in and takes some pressure off Jai is great.”
But a lot of work for Lyons.
“I normally just play defense,” said Lyons. “I’m really not used to playing offense. It makes for a long game, but it’s definitely fun.”
Thornton led all rushers with 171 yards on 24 carries.
The loss doesn’t diminish from the defensive effort from the Red Devils, a unit that had been giving up points and yards in bunches. In addition to shutting the Fords out in the second half, they forced two turnovers—an interception from Matt Walters and a fumble recovery—and registered four sacks. Mike Tipton registered two of those sacks, while Drew Saienni and Kyle Speer got credit for the other two.
“We’ve had three or four good defensive games this season,” said coach Doug Langley. “We did pay very well tonight. That was a team that just missed out on the playoffs. This was a huge step for a young team. We’re still going to be young next year, so it’s important for these guys to know they can play this way. We just have to find some consistency. We had ups and downs this year like any young team.”
With the end of the season comes the end of Peck’s high school career. After quarterbacking in a run-first wing-T for most of his career, spent much of this seaosn showing his passing talents.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Peck. “It was a big change for me as a quarterback to suddenly be throwing the ball half the time. But the coaches did a great job of getting me ready. It’s unfortunate the season had to end this way, but it was a lot of fun getting to throw so much this year.”
Haverford High 15, Avon Grove 7
Haverford 6 9 0 0-- 15
Avon Grove 7 0 0 0-- 7
Hav -- Thornton 3 run (kick failed)
AG -- Jones 33 pass from Peck (Scarpetto kick)
Hav -- Safety.
Hav -- Lyons 12 pass from Donaghy (Boyce kick)
First downs 9 8
Yards rushing 233 55
Yards passing 111 105
Total yards 344 160
Passing 7-12-1 10-25-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties 3-30 6-50
Punts-Avg. 1-44.0 5-33.6
RUSHING - Haverford: Thornton 24-171 TD; Lyons 11-73; Drum 2-0; Donaghy 1-(-11). Avon Grove: Peck 7-36; Parola 6-16; Jones 1-2; Hoffman 1-1.
PASSING - Haverford: Donaghy 7-11-1 111 yards TD; Lyons 0-1-0. Avon Grove: Peck 10-25-0 105 yards TD.
RECEIVING - Haverford: Lyons 4-73 TD; Thornton 2-17; McClernon 1-21. Avon Grove: Radecki 3-24; Jones 2-39 TD; Parola 1-10; Buchanan 1-9; D’Aqanno 3-23.
SACKS -Haverford: None. Avon Grove: Tipton 2, Saienni, Speeer.
INTERCEPTIONS - Haverford: None. Avon Grove: Walters.