RADNOR — The celebration was on, and Jahmir Rider still had the football. He did not want to let go. You can’t blame him. Radnor’s top wide receiver caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Sean Mullarkey at the buzzer to send the third-seeded Raiders to a thrilling 27-25 victory Friday over No. 14 Marple Newtown in the first round of the District 1 Class 5A tournament. It was Radnor’s first playoff victory in school history. No. 11 Unionville awaits next week.
Even if was the school’s 100th, this will be one nobody soon forgets.
“There are no words for what just happened,” Rider said. “I can’t describe that. That is the greatest feeling in the world. I can’t. …”
He trailed off. He could barely talk. The Raiders (9-2) were down 25-21 with one minute, 48 seconds remaining. They had no timeouts and had to go 63 yards. They had spoiled three previous chances to put the game away. A historic season came down to this drive and Mullarkey delivered.
The senior quarterback survived a sack — remember this play — and got the Raiders to midfield. He connected twice with Teddy Girton to get to the 12. Two incomplete passes later, there were four seconds on the clock. One play.
“Someone caught it,” said Mullarkey, who legitimately didn’t know postgame that it was Rider who hauled it in. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
Radnor coach Tom Ryan said the play was a combination of two different plays he runs. He called for a spread formation and an empty backfield to give his playmakers some space. It was something they had never practiced. Girton and Rider both ran to the middle of the field and actually collided in front of a defender just as Rider caught it. The throw was on the money.
Once the touchdown signal came, the entire Radnor side rushed the field. Players, coaches, students, everyone. There were hugs, there were tears, there were looks of bewilderment. The first playoff victory in the first playoff game ever had a Hollywood ending.
“As far as excitement, as far as thrilling, I don’t think you can write it up any better than that,” Ryan said. “Our kids responded and I’m really at a loss for words right now. I’ve coached over 300 games in my career and this is at the top of the list.”
It almost didn’t happen.
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