ST. JOE'S PREP 35, MALVERN PREP 6
There was a chance that St. Joseph's Prep, less than two weeks after a heartbreaking loss to archrival La Salle, would have little left in the motivation tank for its Thanksgiving Day game against Malvern Prep.
"You would think that would be the case, but that's not the way we function," senior defensive tackle Paul Johnson said. "The guys on this team are freak competitors."
With a lights-out defensive effort that produced two scores and six sacks, the still-driven Hawks easily downed the overmatched Friars, 35-6, at Plymouth Whitemarsh.
In rebounding from the overtime loss in the Catholic League Class AAAA final, the Prep forged a 3-3 tie in the holiday series and clinched their first 10-win campaign since 2007.
"Before the season, we wanted to set the standard and re-establish the brand of St. Joe's Prep football," senior Tim Rafter said. "We wanted to inspire the same type of fear that teams in the past had."
Led by Rafter and fellow stalwart linebackers Todd Jones and John Antiskay, the Hawks (10-1) held Malvern's wing-T attack to 11 rushing yards on 28 attempts. Thirteen tackles went for losses.
"You can only compete in the present," Antiskay said. "After losing to La Salle, we took three days off and then went back to work. It's just part of the process."
Less than two minutes in, Antiskay's interception of a left-side pass and 14-yard return provided an early lead. "It was a curl-flat drop," the 6-foot, 205-pound senior said. "I was in the right place at the right time."
Antiskay, who joined Jones in earning first-team all-Catholic AAAA honors, posted nine tackles, including 2 1/2 sacks. He made three straight solo stops in a third-quarter series.
"We came out each weak and tried for excellence," said Antiskay, an East Falls resident. "We were anxious to go out there and play one last time together. We wanted to make the most of it."
Chris Martin's 37-yard pass to wideout D.J. Durant and John Reid's 3-yard dash left Malvern, which coughed the ball up twice in the first quarter, staring at a 21-0 deficit at intermission.
"You can't make the mistakes we did in the first half and play with the No. 2-ranked team in Southeastern Pennsylvania," Friars coach Kevin Pellegrini said.
In the first minute after the break, Vince Moffett's 58-yard burst and Rafter's 9-yard fumble return, courtesy of a shared sack by Jones and end James Mooney, put the Hawks in front, 35-0.
Martin completed 7 of 12 passes for 73 yards. His counterpart, Billy Ford, hit on 14 of 21 throws for 91 yards.
Malvern (6-5) averted a shutout on backup quarterback Alex Hornibrook's 10-yard toss to James Keating with no time remaining.
St. Joseph's Prep 14 7 14 0-35
Malvern Prep 0 0 0 6-6
SJP: John Antiskay 14 interception return (Kyle Battin kick)
SJP: D.J. Durant 37 pass from Chris Martin (Battin kick)
SJP: John Reid 3 run (Battin kick)
SJP: Vince Moffett 58 run (Battin kick)
SJP: Tim Rafter 9 fumble return (Battin kick)
MP: James Keating 10 pass from Alex Hornibrook (no attempt)