By Terry Toohey
HAVERFORD — It was do-or-die time for The Haverford School.
The Fords needed a first down to run out the clock and preserve a 13-7 victory over archrival Episcopal Academy Saturday afternoon at Sabol Field. The task, though, was a daunting one.
After a bad snap from center that resulted in an eight-yard loss, the Fords faced a second-and-18 from their 46-yard line. With less than two minutes to play, there was still plenty of time for the Churchman to get the ball back and pull out a comeback victory, even though EA was out of timeouts.
With the game on the line Haverford School coach Brian Martin turned to his playmaker, running back Sam Gerber, to make something happen and the senior delivered.
Gerber picked up two yards on second down and then sprinted 20 yards around left end to get the crucial first down to run out the clock. After being tackle, Gerber got up and flexed toward the Haverford School sideline. His teammates and the student section went wild.
Two kneel-downs later, the victory was secured and the sweater that goes to the winner of the annual EA-Haverford Day was back in the Fords’ possession.
“It felt good,” Gerber said. “This team has been through a lot of adversity this season, a lot of up and downs, but this win just shows the resiliency of our team. We never give up and we came together and put together a heck of a win.”
Gerber’s run and celebration would not have been possible without a key stand by the defense. The Churchmen (6-4 overall, 3-2 Inter-Ac) were on the march in Fords’ territory when the defense stiffened. EA faced a fourth-and-two from the Haverford School 43.
C.J. Jones tried to go around left end but outside linebacker Louie Atkinson stopped Jones a yard shy of the first down.
“He made a great play,” defensive back Will Costin said of Atkinson. “That was the game right there.”
It was a defensive struggle for the most part as both teams had trouble moving the ball mainly due to the rain and wind that dominated the second and third quarters.
Gerber got the Fords (5-4, 3-2) on the board first on a three-yard run in the second. T.J. Lamb evened matters on EA’s next possession when he pulled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Fant.
It stayed that way until the Matt Brosko scored on a two-yard run on the Fords’ first possession of the third quarter to cap a six-play, 55-yard march.
“We were putting together drives but we just couldn’t finish,” Fant said. “The ball didn’t bounce our way today. … It’s disappointing but not everything can go your way.”
The ball bounced the right way for the Fords, thanks to a huge defensive stand and an even bigger run by Gerber.
“It’s great to be able to perform for my team,” Gerber said. “I love every guy on this team and I’m just happy that I can make plays for them and do everything I can to help this team win.”