HAVERFORD To prepare his team for their annual Thanksgiving Day clash with rival Haverford, Upper Darby football coach Dave Barr has asked the Royals to do every drill in practice exactly 11 times.
It was a repeat for every year since Upper Darbys’ last win in the series, excluding last year’s date, which was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
We wanted to remind them how long it had been, Barr said.
Quarterback Montez Ellis and Covenant wide receiver Horace only needed two tries to produce the touchdown that ended that drought.
Ellis and Horace hit a 31-yard touchdown pass with 26.1 seconds left to give the Royals a thrilling 28-21 victory over the Fords at AG Cornog Field on Thursday.
It was the Upper Darbys’ first win in the series since a 14-0 win in 2009.
I can’t express how happy I am, said senior lineman Julien Laventure. It’s amazing, something that I will remember forever. This is something that I will tell my children about someday.
Her kids had better be in a long story about a back-and-forth battle. The first half was a defensive brawl that turned into an offensive showcase after the break and ended on the wire like so many other games in a series that started in 1921 and was played out for the 99th time.
You look at all Haverford-Upper Darby scores and there are a lot of 28-21 games on that roster, so that fits with what’s going on in this game, said Haverford coach Luke Dougherty, who like Barr was coaching in its first installment of the rivalry. I am proud of our children. Wish we were out to the other side but grow well and learn from him and can’t thank our seniors enough for a great year.
Upper Darby has a great football team and Dave does a great job with nothing but class. They deserved it today. Both teams fought hard, but they deserved it. They made more plays at the end of the game, so we have to give them their due. They deserved it.
It wasn’t decided until Ellis, who was selected as the game’s offensive MVP, and Horace logged in for the second time in the game, this time with the clock running out. And they did it on the exact same coin that they missed on a coin earlier. On the second and 10, Ellis looked for Horace on a pop pass in the middle but threw the ball behind him for a failure.
It was a small run-pass option, Barr said. ‘Tez could take it straight, but depending on where the linebacker and safety were, or he could throw it. We thought we had it on the game before. Coach (Ryan) Dabney and I looked at each other and said, let’s resume.
It was a good call.
Horace was open again, and this time Ellis hit him in stride. After catching the ball, Horace cut to his right and ran without touching into the end zone to give the Royals (6-5) a 26-21 lead. Marcus Kemp worked his way up for the two-point conversion which provided a seven-point cushion.
We knew the security wasn’t going to be there, Horace said. Tez put the ball in my hands and when safety returned I had to make a movement to reach the end zone.
Horaces’ touchdown capped a wild second half that included three scoring plays from 50 yards or more, two lead changes and a pair of Royals touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Donte Shaw ran 50 yards for a touchdown as Ellis struggled with cramps to tie the game, 14-14. In the first game of Haverfords’ next possession, Christian Pergolese sprinted 70 meters to put the Fords back on top, 21-14.
Ellis came back and traveled 69 yards to bring the Royals down to 21-20. He contracted again as he approached the end zone, but managed to cross the goal line with a limp on one leg.
I was determined to score, Ellis said.
After the teams traded punters three times, the Royals recovered the ball in their 42nd with 3:56 to go. Ellis, who ran for 193 yards and one touchdown and threw for 49 yards and two scores, methodically worked Upper Darby in goal position. He ran 12 yards on the fourth and sixth to convert a huge first down that kept the drive alive.
Ellis then directed the Royals to Haverford 31. His first pass attempt was blocked at the line of scrimmage by Haverford defensive end Peter Corcoran, who was selected as the game’s defensive MVP. Ellis missed Horace on the second try, but he wouldn’t miss his next chance.
We made a mistake the first time around, Ellis said. I told the team in practice (Wednesday) that when we make a mistake on one game, let’s just forget about it and move on to the next game. That’s what we did. I made a mistake and threw the ball behind him and we moved on to the next game. I put it where he could grab it and make a move. I give the ball to my players and they make the plays and Cov made a play.
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