Barlee, Churchmen make changes late to rally to win
NEWTOWN SQUARE >> It seems appropriate that Friday night’s contest between Episcopal Academy and Springside-Chestnut Hill marked the opening night of Inter-Ac football. The game mimicked the many timeless contests played between these teams year in and year out: Ugly, hardfought, and at times sloppy play paired with the electric, incredible moments you don’t find anywhere else.
Episcopal Academy had the final edge in the grit department as it willed its way to a 35-26 win.
While the play ebbed back and forth, Todd Fairlie’s offense came up clutch under pressure. With 8:39 left to go in the fourth quarter and Episcopal leading 28-26, DeeWil Barlee led a 15-play, 80-yard drive that sucked seven minutes off the clock.
“The short span in the second half where we didn’t do well, turning the ball over and other things, and I was like, what are we doing going away from our best player?,” Fairlie said, referencing Barlee. “That was an easy decision.”
There were plenty of setbacks, especially in the first half. Aaron Angelos capped off a 5-play opening drive that lasted two minutes with a 33yard touchdown pass to Rob Gentile for the Blue Devils.
Episcopal (6-1, 1-0) followed with a three and out. Late in the first quarter, Aaron Rascoe rolled left, hit the brakes and switched his run to the other side, only to break loose for a 65-yard score to put his team ahead 13-0.
Meanwhile, Barlee had just seven carries in the first half, dropped a pass in the open field that would have led to a touchdown and lost a fumble on the final drive of the second half. Their lone score was an 89-yard bomb from Maurcus McDaniel to Jack Bush on a third down.
But the tide changed, and so did Barlee.
“Definitely my mindset,” Barlee said when asked what changed in the locker room at halftime. “First half, I was in my brain. Last first league game with a lot of pressure on me and the whole team. I was trying to do too much and make a big play on every play. That’s not how this league works. Second half, my approach changed, and I took it play by play.”
It only took two plays at the start of the second half for Barlee to find the end zone. The Villanova commit sidestepped two offensive linemen before breaking through the line for a 38-yard score. That gave Episcopal a 14-13 edge, and the Churchmen scored 14 more points over their next two possessions to make it 28-13. The defensive line, led by Jack Purcell, was unrelenting.
Episcopal Academy’s Jack Bush hauls in a pass which he took for an 89-yard touchdown in the first half. EA used a strong second to rally past Springside Chestnut Hill, 3625, Friday.