Dox Aitken ran toward the sideline, leaped into the air, and chest-bumped a teammate. The Haverford School junior had returned an interception for a fourth-quarter touchdown, sealing a 22-6 victory over visiting Malvern Prep.
Aitken's 34-yard score was a relief for the Fords, who seemed to be letting Malvern slowly back into the Inter-Ac League opener Friday afternoon. And it was cause for celebration.
"That told us that we had this game," Aitken said. "Now, people aren't going to short us and they'll take us seriously. Our biggest goal this year was putting our team on the map, and I think we did that today."
Aitken was locked in man coverage on Malvern's No. 1 receiver when he noticed Trevor Morris slow down. The Fords defensive back looked at the quarterback and jumped the route.
But before he sprinted to the end zone, Aitken said, he had to focus on catching the pass.
"Sometimes I get a little ahead of myself and don't catch it," he said. "So when I did catch it, I saw some green and just took off."
On defense, Aitken and the Fords (5-1) shut out Malvern (2-4) in the first half, including a key fourth-down stop inside the red zone.
Fords senior running back Phil Poquie said his offense likes to start fast. He proved that with a 4-yard touchdown run to cap the team's second possession.
"Once we get momentum going, we keep momentum going," Poquie said. "It's important for us to score first, but the defense was really the key factor."
Poquie rushed for 101 yards on 15 carries, most of which came on an 86-yard rush just before halftime. He juked past a defender around midfield, cut to the left, and ran along the sideline before stepping out of bounds.
Under his jersey, Poquie had written "LIB" on the bottom plate of his shoulder pads. His family fled Liberia when he was 2. He said the African nation at the heart of the Ebola epidemic "means everything" to him.
"Everyone knows what's going on over there. It is what it is," Poquie said. "You have to keep a positive mind-set, and hopefully one day it will come to an end. But for now, we have to keep praying that the situation gets under control."
Haverford School 9 3 0 10 - 22
Malvern Prep 0 0 6 0 - 6
HS: Phil Poquie 4 run (Jack Soslow kick)
HS: FG Soslow 21
MP: Trevor Morris 16 pass from Alex Hornibrook (pass failed)
HS: Dox Aitken 34 with interception (Soslow kick)
HS: FG Soslow 49