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Durkin, ‘tough’ Haverford spoil Marple Newtown’s homecoming

By 24 October, 2011August 18th, 2012No Comments

By Dennis Deitch, Delaware County Daily Times
October 24, 2011

MARPLE TWP. — If Joe Gallagher’s broad smile didn’t tell you, his Gatorade-soaked head did. If the soaked head didn’t tell you, his excitable postgame speech — one you’d expect from a coach following his first win instead of his 100th — did.

And if the passion in Gallagher’s voice didn’t tell you, the scoreboard Friday night did: Haverford 23, Marple Newtown 20.

It was a big win for the Fords (5-3 overall, 4-2 Central League) — big enough that those celebrating were hard-pressed to recall the last win of this magnitude.

“I don’t know … in recent years, this is up there,” Gallagher said.

The Fords have come a long way after enduring September without quarterback Eddie Durkin. Just as a kid who suffers a broken arm can become ambidextrous by compensating while his primary wing is in a cast, the Fords seemed to strengthen other aspects of their team without their talented QB.

Now that Durkin is back, they are dangerous. Marple Newtown (6-2, 5-2) found out the hard way.

“I hate to say it, but playing without Eddie served a good purpose actually,” Gallagher said. “Because we didn’t talk about it, we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves, and we just tried to play without him.”

Durkin, who had 70 yards passing, 89 yards rushing and ran for two first-half scores, didn’t want to make himself sound as important as he truly is to his team.

“I wouldn’t say it was good or bad,” Durkin said of his coming back after missing four games with a broken hand. “Since I’ve been starting it’s the biggest win I’ve been a part of. We knew we had a good shot of winning, and everyone did their jobs and we picked up the victory.”

The win came thanks to a relentless rushing game that tore into the Tigers between the tackles. The Fords’ backfield big trio of Durkin (17 carries, 89 yards) and running backs Mike Clancy (12-120) and Dylan Hewitt (8-83) were able to more than counteract the singular effort of Marple Newtown’s Cimirrow Moat (27 carries, 183 yards).

The 288 rushing yards by Haverford came against a defense that entered the week as the stingiest scoring defense in the county, allowing just 117 rushing yards per game. The Fords clearly saw something that could be exploited, and attacked it.

“The word of the week was ‘tough,'” Gallagher said. “Because that’s what it was going to take to coming onto the field, a 6-1 team – a really, really good team.”

A team that happened to schedule its homecoming against Haverford.

“It was a small factor,” Gallagher said. “It was mentioned during the week. We don’t like being scheduled for homecoming, I’ll be honest.”

The Fords’ key drive came in the second quarter after Moat made a gorgeous cutback and raced down the sidelines for a 54-yard touchdown to tie the game, 10-10. The Fords needed four plays to go 75 yards, and Durkin went eight yards up the middle untouched for a touchdown to put Haverford ahead for good, 16-10.

Although Moat had 139 yards on the ground at half, Haverford’s defense made him work harder for those yards in the second. On Marple’s final drive, it had reached the Fords’ 30-yard line with a minute left. But after an incompletion on first down, Haverford defensive tackle Dylan Cullen stuffed Moat for no gain with a jaw-rattling hit, and two plays later Mike Gentile would pick off a desperation pass by Tigers QB Jamie Ridinger on fourth down to ice it.

Moments later, Gallagher was getting the icing courtesy of a bucket poured over his head.

“Coming into the season, we felt like we could be a playoff contender,” Durkin said. “Now we just take it one game at a time and hopefully we win out.

“Right now we consider ourselves a top contender in the Central League.”