Fords Football Suffers Last Minute Defeat in the Turkey Bowl 


Quan Ta

The Haverford football team bursts through a banner, proudly displaying the Fords’ mantra, “Built Ford Tough.”

Mason Baylis, Assistant Editor

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A 44℉ morning at A.G. Cornog Stadium on Thanksgiving morning welcomed visitors and players from both Haverford and Upper Darby after a year’s hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The 99th official Turkey Bowl resumed this year, with Haverford holding a 49-43-6 advantage in the matchup and an eleven-game winning streak against UD. 

Entering the game, Haverford (5-5) and Upper Darby (6-5) both were looking to end their seasons with a high point. Haverford had grabbed the final spot in the district playoffs, but fell to first-seeded Garnet Valley, 42-0. Upper Darby had finished 19th of the PIAA D1 6A conference, but failed to qualify for districts. 

The 2021 matchup of the Turkey Bowl notably lacked experience as both coaches, Luke Dougherty (Haverford) and Dave Barr (Upper Darby), were coaching their first Turkey Bowl games as head coaches. Also, the Junior quarterbacks from both programs, Tommy Wright (Haverford) and Montez Ellis (Upper Darby) entered their first Turkey Bowl as QB 1. 

On the first play of the game, Wright received the ball and handed it off to Senior running back Christian Pergolose as he ran to the left hash marks. Pergolose then tossed the ball to Senior wide receiver Tommy Caruso, who was running to the right. Caruso threw the ball to a wide-open Wright for a big Haverford gain. Lack of experience was not going to convince either team to play the game “safe.” 

Haverford eventually stalled on the drive, turning the ball over to Upper Darby. The Royals then drove down the field to open the scoring with a touchdown catch by wide receiver Covenant Horace, making it 7-0. 

Both offenses, assisted by self-inflicted penalties, struggled to gain any serious momentum for the majority of the half. The lull was broken by a 50-yard pass from quarterback Wright to Junior wide receiver Ethan Mahan, who was brought out of bounds at the four-yard line. With 26.8 seconds left in the first half, the Fords tied the game with a catch from Junior wide receiver Justin Marciano, and a PAT from Junior kicker Googie Seidman tied the game at 7-7. 

Junior Googie Seidman ties the game, 7-7, at the end of the first half. (Quan Ta)

On the kickoff following the touchdown, quarterback Montez Ellis returned the ball for a touchdown. Yet, a block in the back call on Upper Darby reversed the score, resulting in Upper Darby sending out their offense to run down the clock for the end of the half. 

As the third quarter resumed play, the defensive battle started to turn in favor of the offenses. On Haverford’s second drive of the half, Junior running back Collin Cassidy broke off an 18-yard carry, putting the Fords into the Red Zone. Haverford was able to bring the ball to the one-yard line, and Wright was able to do the rest, taking in the QB sneak to give the Fords their first lead of the game at 14-7. 

It took Upper Darby little time to respond as Junior Donte Shaw broke off a rushing touchdown to bring the game back to even. Haverford’s response came in even less time. Running back Pergolese took off with a Christian-McCaffery-esque run for 70 yards as he sprinted past flailing defenders to give Haverford the 21-14 go-ahead. 

In response to the 70-yard touchdown, Montez Ellis of Upper Darby, pushed past Haverford defenders, to give Upper Darby a 59-yard touchdown. Yet a missed PAT kept Haverford in the lead, 21-20. 

Both Haverford and Upper Darby were forced to punt on their next possessions, leaving the ball with Haverford for a chance to finish the game. Upper Darby’s defense had other plans. They forced the Fords to punt, which gave the Royals one last chance to win the game. 

With under two minutes remaining in the game, Upper Darby was on 2nd down with 6 yards to gain at midfield. A false start from the Royals pushed them back to a 2nd and 11. With a five-yard rush from Marcus Kemp, it set up a 3rd and 6. With time ticking down, the Royals needed to get a first down, and for Haverford, a stop would end the game. 

The Royals lined up, and their rushing attempt was denied, leaving a 4th and 6. Two options remained, Upper Darby continuing the drive, or handing Haverford another Turkey Bowl victory. Set in the shotgun formation, the Royals called on Ellis once again to help deliver some magic. Ellis snapped the ball, rolled out to the right, and looking for a pass that wasn’t there, he quickly pulled the ball down, and ran into the open space, giving UD the first down and the ball at Haverford’s 42-yard line. 

Junior Tommy Wright passes the ball to Senior Colin Cassidy, Haverford’s 2021 Defensive MVP. (Quan Ta)

Momentum started to shift into the Royals’ favor as they moved further into the Fords’ territory, setting up their 31-yard line. After a deflected pass from Haverford junior Ben Fleming, Upper Darby faced a 3rd and 10. If the Royals didn’t convert on the first down, it would have been left up to the decision of either a Hail Mary or a 48-yard field goal to win the game. 

The Royals didn’t have to make that decision. On the 3rd and 10, Ellis snapped the ball, pulled the ball away from the running back in designed play action, and quickly threw the ball out to Covenant Horace who ran 31 yards for the touchdown. Only 26 seconds remained. 

The Haverford crowd was silent, only interrupted by the distant cheering of the Upper Darby fans positioned on the opposite side of the field. Any hopes of a “Haverford Miracle” were destroyed after an interception by Upper Darby Royal Donte Shaw who iced the victory for Upper Darby, 28-21. 

The game wasn’t only the last football game for the participating seniors, but also for those who played an important part in energizing the fans throughout the last four years. For Senior color guard member Emma Phillips, the game was “bittersweet” because she “loves it, but it can be tiring.” Fellow Senior band member Justin Salvensen enjoyed “preparing kids for the next year” and setting them up for future success. 

The cheerleaders, whose season is still young, will miss being on the sideline of football games. Embodying the “fighting spirit,” Senior Erin Maginnis was able to witness over the four years the progress Haverford football has made. Describing her last football game as a cheerleader, Senior Laina Kilpatrick took time to notice how “everyone packed the stands,” leaving her with a lasting memory. 

The Fords finished with a record of 5-7. Defensive MVP was awarded to Senior Peter Corcoran of Haverford, and the Offensive MVP was awarded to Upper Darby’s Monte Ellis. 

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