Fer­nan­dez runs wild as Fri­ars win wild one

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bruce Adams badams@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @mline­s­ports on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> Be­hind Malvern Prep’s po­tent of­fen­sive line, se­nior run­ning back Zac Fer­nan­dez ran for 326 yards and four touch­downs as the Fri­ars (6-3, 3-1) de­feated host Penn Char­ter, 35-28, Fri­day af­ter­noon at Maguire Field to re­main in the In­terAc ti­tle race.

The con­test fea­tured seven touch­down drives of 65 yards or more (one of them 99 yards), touch­down plays of 66, 67, and 68 yards, and a win­ning TD run of 44 yards by Fer­nan­dez.

“Zac is a dy­namic player, and to­day he put the team on his back,” said Malvern Prep head coach Aaron Brady. “He has worked re­ally hard lead­ing up to this sea­son, and to­day his hard work paid off.”

Penn Char­ter head coach Tom Coyle said, “That No. 5 [Fer­nan­dez] is a tough kid. It of­ten took more than one of our tack­lers to bring him down to­day.”

The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Fer­nan­dez car­ried the ball 36 times Fri­day

“Our of­fen­sive line did a great job,” Fer­nan­dez said. “They were mov­ing the line of scrim­mage all game long.”

Open­ing holes for Fer­nan­dez were se­nior cen­ter Jake Glavin, ju­nior left guard Joseph Ba­siura, se­nior left tackle Sean Grady, se­nior right guard Justin Titch­enell and sopho­more right tackle Jake Horni­brook.

“Our of­fen­sive line de­serves a lot of credit for their effort to­day,” said Brady. “These young men pushed the op­po­nent around all day.”

Malvern Prep and Penn Char­ter each en­tered Fri­day’s game with only one In­ter-Ac loss, and in the hunt for the league ti­tle.

“This was an ab­solu­ate must­win game for us,” said Fer­nan­dez. “We want to win the In­terAc. This was like a cham­pi­onship game for us.”

For the fans, the game was a great dis­play of of­fense, with the two teams com­bin­ing for 41 first downs.

For Penn Char­ter (6-2, 2-2), se­nior lefty quar­ter­back Michael Hnatkowsky kept hit­ting wideopen re­ceivers for short gains, and fin­ished the day with 25 com­ple­tions on 42 at­tempts for 315 yards. One of his re­ceivers, se­nior Chris Tucker, grabbed 10 passes for 153 yards.

Malvern led at half­time, 217, and fell be­hind 28-21 early in the fi­nal quar­ter, but re­gained mo­men­tum and ral­lied for two touch­downs late in the game to pull out the vic­tory.

“When we were los­ing 28-21, it was like a gut check,” Fer­nan­dez said. “Our se­nior lead­er­ship helped to pull us through. Our de­fense made some late stops for vic­tory. We are re­ally a re­silient team, like a fam­ily.”

Malvern got off to a fast start. On the open­ing play from scrim­mage from the Friar 32-yard line, Fer­nan­dez took a hand­off from sopho­more quar­ter­back Drew Gun­ther, found an open­ing, and broke free down the right side­line for a 68-yard tocuh­down that put the visi­tors ahead 7-0 only 21 sec­onds into the game.

Mid­way through the first quar­ter, a Penn Char­ter punt pinned Malvern back at its own 1-yard line. The Fri­ars be­gan a 99-yard touch­down drive that ended on an 8-yard run by Fer­nan­dez up the mid­dle to make it 14-0 just be­fore the end of the first quar­ter. Fer­nan­dez car­ried the ball six times for 67 yards on the drive.

Hnatkowsky bagen to hit his re­ceivers for short, pro­duc­tive gains, and the Quak­ers scored on a 70-yard, seven-play touch­down drive to make it 14-7. Big plays on the drive were a 26-yard screen pass to sopho­more run­ning back Ed­ward Saydee and a 16-yard swing pass to Saydee.

Coyle said, “Michael’s a very tal­ented, pol­ished quar­ter­back who can read de­fenses well.”

Malvern bounced right back with a 73-yard, 13-play touch­down drive of its own, mix­ing short rushes by Fer­nan­dez with short pass com­ple­tions by Gun­ther, and pick­ing up five first downs on the drive (the two teams com­bined for 41 first downs Fri­day). The fi­nal play on this drive was a 10-yard touch­down by Gun­ther to

tightly-cov­ered sopho­more wide re­ceiver Quincy Wat­son, and the Fri­ars took a 21-7 lead at half­time.

The Quak­ers took the sec­ond-half kick­off and en­gi­neered a 90-yard, 14-play TD drive, with Hnatkowsky com­plet­ing six passes to five dif­fer­ent re­ceivers on the drive. Late in the third quar­ter, Hnatkowsky hit se­nior wide re­ceiver Chris Tucker in full stride down the left side­line for a 67-yard touch­down to tie the score at 21-21.

The Quak­ers stopped Malvern on its next pos­ses­sion at the Penn Char­ter 34 yard line, and on the fol­low­ing play, Saydee found an open­ing up the mid­dle and ex­ploded for a 66-yard touch­down to put the hosts ahead for the first time, 2821, with 10:16 to play.

The Fri­ars took the en­su­ing kick­off and marched 65 yards to pay­dirt to tie the score at 28-28, with the fi­nal play on the drive a 3-yard leap by Fer­nan­dez over a pile of tack­lers for his third touch­down of the day. The big play on the drive was a swing pass by Gun­ther to Fer­nan­dez on third-and-3 from the Penn Char­ter 44. Fer­nan­dez took it all the way down to the Quak­ers 16-yard line for a 28-yard gain.

The en­su­ing Penn Char­ter pos­ses­sion stalled at mid­field, and a Quaker punt put the ball at the Malvern 25 yard line, from where the Fri­ars be­gan a 75-yard touch­down march. On the sixth play from scrim­mage, on third-and-3 from the Penn Char­ter 44, Fer­nan­dez got the ball again, and he found an open­ing up the mid­dle for a 44-yard touch­down.

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