By BRAD SPAHR
MALVERN - With only five Inter-Ac games on its schedule, the Malvern Prep football team realizes it probably has to run the table to win the title.
The Friars got off to a good start on Saturday afternoon in their league opener, as they used an outstanding defensive effort to post a 24-7 victory over visiting Germantown Academy in front of its homecoming day crowd at Quigley Field.
Malvern Prep (1-0 Inter-Ac, 4-2 overall) forced five turnovers on a picture-perfect afternoon for football, and harassed Germantown Academy junior quarterback Hayes Nolte into a rough day throwing the ball out of the Patriots’ pass-happy spread offensive attack, limiting him to a 13-of-32 day through the air and picking him off three times.
Offensively, meanwhile, the Friars pounded out 251 rushing yards on the ground. Senior Connor Bohs led the way with a game-high 104 yards on 17 carries, including a key 1-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to ice the game. Eric Purnell added 15 touches for 82 yards, and Troy Gallen finished with 68 yards and a touchdown.
“This was the first time we’ve faced a 3-5 defense in a while,” said Malvern Prep coach Kevin Pellegrini. “They really blitz a lot too. We had to play a little more vanilla than usual, and this wasn’t the most pretty win for us, but we’ll certainly take it.”
The biggest play of the game was a turnover the Malvern Prep defense forced early in the fourth quarter that changed the whole complexion of the contest when it appeared Germantown Academy (0-1, 3-2) was about to make things very interesting.
Malvern Prep led 17-7 with 9:34 to play, but the Patriots were knocking on the door in the red zone at the 19-yard line. Germantown Academy running back Myles Anthony ripped off a great run and was about to score, when he was tackled at the 1-yard line, but fumbled trying to stretch the ball over the goal line. Making matters worse for Anthony and the Patriots was the fact that the ball was recovered in the end zone by Malvern Prep’s Hunter Paulus for a touchback.
Instead of a potential 17-14 game in the fourth quarter, the swing gave the Friars the ball and they proceeded to deliver a backbreaking 80-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes off the clock. Bohs capped it with a 1-yard touchdown run to give Malvern a 24-7 lead with 2:56 remaining.
“That turnover was huge,” said Bohls. “In the huddle after that we knew we needed to get a touchdown to end the game. I think that was the best drive we’ve had all season.
“Our defense was awesome today and as a team we really ran the ball hard. We know that if we don’t go undefeated in the league we are not going to win the league title, so every game is critical.”
It was a tough loss for Germantown Academy, who had chances after a slow start that left them down 14-0 at halftime.
On the opening kickoff of the third quarter, Malvern Prep fumbled the ball deep in its own end and the Patriots recovered at 26-yard line. Moments later, they were into the end zone when Rob Gorman scored on a 6-yard run to cut the deficit to 14-7.
Malvern Prep added a key field goal with 2:39 left in the third quarter, as Jon Dollfus connected from 32 yards out to give the Friars some breathing room and a 17-7 lead.
Germantown Academy answered with a great drive, but the fumble by Anthony at the 1-yard line proved to be a killer.
“There’s no better kid in the world than Myles and it was a great run, but that fumble obviously was a huge turning point,” said Germantown Academy coach Matt Dence. “If we score there it’s 17-14 with almost 10 minutes left -- that would’ve changed the whole game.
“We turned the ball over way too many times, and you certainly can’t do that against a team like Malvern. I put those turnovers on myself. I felt our best option was to go up tempo against them today and I made the game faster than I should’ve, and in the process it kind of backfired on us.”
Malvern Prep opened the game about as good as they could’ve hoped. After stopping Germantown on three plays on the game’s first series and forcing a punt, the Friars proceeded to march 52 yards in three plays to grab a quick 7-0 lead. The drive was capped by a 30-yard touchdown run by Troy Gallen.
Senior quarterback Bill Ford later gave Malvern a 14-0 lead when he scored on a 1-yard run with 6:34 left in the second quarter. That drive was setup following an interception by Joe Carlini, who had two picks on the day.
Although they were at times outplayed from that point forward, Malvern Prep made the big plays when it had to down the stretch to protect their lead. None bigger than Paulus’s fumble recovery in the end zone.
“That helped calm the blood pressure,” said Pellegrini. “Huge turnover right there, and luckily enough we were there to fall on that ball. Our drive after that was key as well -- I think they started to tire there and we were able to put it away.
“We know how important each and every one of these league games are. Especially getting that first one out of the way. Not only that, it was important for us to get this win in front of our homecoming crowd. We had a lot of alumni back here and it’s nice to leave the field with a victory.”
Malvern Prep 24
Germantown Academy 7
Germantown Academy 0 0 7 0 -- 7
Malvern Prep 7 7 3 7 -- 24
MP-Gallen 30 run (Dollfus kick)
MP-Ford 1 run (Dollfus kick)
GA-Gorman 6 run (Flood kick)
MP-Dollfus 32 field goal
MP-Bohs 1 run (Dollfus kick)
First downs 10 16
Yards rushing 107 251
Yards passing 127 100
Total yards 234 351
Passing 13-32-3 8-15-1
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 3-2
Penalties 2-15 3-20
Punts-Avg. 4-27.7 4-42.2
RUSHING - Germantown Academy: Anthony 7-60; Gorman 4-17, TD; Nolte 4-17; David 2-8; Taylor 1-5. Malvern Prep: Bohs 17-104, TD; Purnell 15-82; Gallen 9-68, TD; Carlini 1-3; Ford 6-(-6), TD.
PASSING - Germantown Academy: Nolte 13-32, 127 yds, 3INTs. Malvern Prep: Ford 8-15, 100 yds, INT.
RECEIVING - Germantown Academy: Taylor 5-69; Donahue 3-29; Stevens 2-21; Gorman 1-6; Levy 1-5; Anthony 1-(-3). Malvern Prep: Carlini 4-29; Ammerman 2-49; Gallen 1-12; Purnell 1-10.
SACKS - Germantown Academy: David, Alter. Malvern Prep: Riordan, Andrews.
INTERCEPTIONS - Germantown Academy: Arsenault. Malvern Prep: Carlini 2, Purnell.