NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA –There is no such thing as an Inter-Academic League playoff game, but if it ever pseudo-existed, it manifested Friday night.
In a classic seesaw battle played amidst sporadic rainfall, visiting Penn Charter defeated Episcopal Academy, 27-23. The victory wasn’t assured until late in the fourth quarter, when the Quakers’ vaunted running game ran out the clock with a series of first downs after the defense had forced a punt from near midfield.
“It was a hell of a game,” said senior star tailback Eddie Saydee. “The weather and the fans were a big part of the atmosphere. Running the ball was the key for both teams. At the end we came up with the win because we applied pressure on offense and our defense stepped up when we needed to.”
Saydee finished with 112 yards and two touchdowns on 19 rushes, giving him an incredible 20 with one game to play. But Saydee’s stats took a backseat to Kyle Jones. The junior quarterback gained a career-high 160 yards on only 12 carries.
Jones also tallied his ninth TD of the season. Saydee said Jones’ success aids his numbers.
Penn Charter senior captain Edward Saydee- PSD Photo by Zamani Feelings
“It’s very helpful because it allows us to keep the defense guessing,” said Saydee. “His ability to run helps the team out a lot because he can make something out of nothing. His size allows him to break tackles as well. We have a run-pass option that benefits us a lot.”
Penn Charter (7-2 overall, 3-1 Inter-Ac) was concerned about Episcopal senior star DeeWil Barlee, who collected 128 yards and two touchdowns to keep the Churchmen (6-3, 2-2) close.
The Quakers did not try to stop Barlee, only contain him. For the most part, they succeeded.
“On defense we focused on stopping the run because we knew that’s what they felt comfortable doing,” said Saydee. “On my last TD, my offensive line did a great job in opening a gap for me in the middle and I just burst through hand tackles of linebackers and defensive backs.”
Saydee was referring to all-underclassmen blockers Ty Needham (sophomore), Gavin Zavorski (junior), Ryan Wreath (sophomore), Rocco Palazzo (sophomore), and Jameson Ford (junior). With the Churchmen needing one more chance to put its offense on the field, those five linemen were relentless against a solid EA defense.
“Rainy night, so we had to run the ball a lot and our big guys up front were able to control their line,” said Jones. “Me and Eddie were able to make some big plays.”
At linebacker, Jones added an important tackle for loss on a key Episcopal drive that resulted in a punt. Senior defensive end Ryan Maloney orchestrated two consecutive sacks in clutch time.
EA senior & Philly Sports Digest Jr. Reporter Alexandra Conroy was recognized during EA Football's senior night! Alex is walking with juniors #5 Brian Virbitsky & #29 Matt Bush - Photo by Martha Schaible
“It took a lot and I got around the end and almost got to the quarterback, and he tried to get out of the pocket and I took him down,” said Maloney. “It was an exciting play for my team. It was a very intense game. Really equal, and both teams played hard.”
Like a playoff game.
(John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.comor on Twitter @johnknebels.)