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Lions Sports

'Ugly' or Not, O'Hara Happy with Winning Rally

OHara Varsity vs Haverford School on 9/8/2012 11:00:00 AM
Posted Sunday, September 09, 2012 by www.delctotimes.com

H.S. Football: ‘Ugly’ or not, O’Hara happy with winning rally


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HAVERFORD — The Haverford School made very few mistakes in the first half of Saturday’s nonleague game against Cardinal O’Hara. The Fords took a 12-point shutout into the locker room at halftime.

The most crucial mistake was committed in the fourth quarter. The Fords allowed O’Hara to hang around.

You normally can’t do that with a Danny Algeo-coached team, and the Lions made the Fords pay.

A superb defensive play coupled with a textbook drive late in regulation lifted O’Hara to a 13-12, come-from-behind victory at Sabol Field. The Lions scored both touchdowns — one on both sides of the ball — in the fourth quarter.


Unable to do much of anything productive on offense for 3½ quarters, Algeo scrapped the passing game — which had netted uneven results at best — on the winning drive. The Lions pounced on the Fords’ second fumble of the quarter and took control at their own 45-yard line. Eight plays later, all of which were designed runs, the Lions were in the end zone celebrating the go-ahead score. Afterward, Algeo told his group: “A win is a win is a win,” which is coachspeak for “that wasn’t pretty.”

“Winning ugly, man,” he said, “is always nice.”

The Lions are two-for-two in such games. Last week in Ocean City, N.J., O’Hara defeated Archbishop Ryan by seven points in another low-scoring affair. The theme: defense. Whereas the Lions offense has managed only 13 points in each game, the defense rose to the occasion both times. Last week, it was a Nick Moriconi interception that sealed the deal. This time, it was the Lions’ pass coverage unit stopping All-Delco linebacker/tight end Matt Galambos from catching a would-be first down over the middle of the field.

“We made some personnel changes (in camp) that really have helped us,” Algeo said. “The last two weeks we have played really good defense.”

If only the Lions can do what they did Saturday afternoon in crunch time on a consistent basis. The talent certainly isn’t the question.

“We had a lot of stupid penalties and stuff on offense that kept holding us back,” senior tackle Carmen Cervella said. “We know we have work to do. Haverford has always been a great team and tough challenge for us.”


Saturday was no different.

The Lions opened the game with a 13-play drive that led to no points. It turned out to be the only decent chance to get on the scoreboard until Thad Smith broke off a 23-yard run with 3:34 left in the fourth. Smith was the Lions’ top performer with 95 yards on 13 carries.

“When we make mistakes, we don’t blame anybody,” linebacker Nolan Cummings said. “It’s ‘Let’s go get ’em the next play.’ That’s the thing that’s great about this team — we have great camaraderie and we work great together. I love playing with these guys.”

Cummings was a force on defense. He registered a handful of tackles, as well as a sack, and recovered a fumble in the end zone. It was the clear turning point. Backed in their own territory, Haverford quarterback Stephen Fitzgerald lost grip of the ball as he was about to throw. The pigskin bounced around and trickled into the end zone, where Cummings was there to corral it.

“The traditional thing is to say run the ball, punt the ball and play defense there in that situation,” Haverford coach Michael Murphy said. “But that’s a good offense (O’Hara has). I thought we were playing phenomenally defensively, but I think you could feel the momentum kind of shift. If we just turtled into a shell, then I felt like we would be giving them opportunities. We still wanted to run, but they started wholesaling eight in the box and bringing pressure. You’re not going to run anywhere when you do that, especially when you’re without two starting offensive linemen (Sema’j Reed and Tim Aikens).”

Murphy also was missing No. 1 tailback Philip Poquie. The sophomore had 98 yards on nine carries in the first half, but did not return after intermission due to an apparent knee injury. Poquie sprinted 74 yards for the game’s first touchdown late in the first quarter. All-Delco kicker Aron Morgan drilled a pair of field goals.



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