Not even a cold, rainy day could damper the excitement behind the 113th installment of the Radnor vs. Lower Merion Rivalry Series Game. Hours before the game, faithful fans, family members and students gathered around their grills with the hope that their team would take home the coveted Great American Rivalry Series Championship Trophy. As fans showed up by the dozens, they could feel United States Marine Corps presence from the beginning to the end of the Rivalry Series festivities. Despite the rain, the Marines were able to interact with the many face painted students in attendance at the annual tailgate. Several football fans that had served in the Marine Corps also thanked the Marines for their sponsorship and assisted the Marines with their set up.
Radnor’s scholarship winner is senior Brendan Connor, son of Mary and Regina Connor. Brendan plays tight end/linebacker for the Raiders and has a 3.6 grade-point average. He is active as a youth counselor, coach, and Special Olympics volunteer, and would like to attend college at Notre Dame.
The Lower Merion scholarship recipient is Conor Foote, a four-year varsity football player and a three-year member of the basketball and baseball teams. He received Honorable Mention in the Central All-League team as a sophomore and was named Second Team as a junior. This season, he was named Central League MVP during Week 6. Conor is a member of the National Honor Society and serves as an intern at Welsh Valley Middle School. He has a 3.67 GPA and is the son of Susan Foote. Conor plans to attend Dickinson, Fordham, Franklin & Marshall, or U of Penn this fall to play football or baseball.
Conor Foote proved to be a force both on and off the field. Stepping up early in the game, Foote scored the first touchdown in the first quarter on a scamper up the middle. After a missed two point conversion, Lower Merion was up 6-0. The Bulldog defense held steady and repeatedly stymied the Radnor offense. The defense and offense, lead by Conor Foote, continuously showed spectators why this game was a Great American Rivalry. In what may have been one of the best plays in the 2009 Rivalry Series season, Foote scrambled at mid field, breaking tackles and evading rushers before launching the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. After the extra point and a near miss on another touchdown, Lower Merion took a 13-0 lead into the half.
While their respective teams were receiving their halftime pep talks, students and fans rushed over to the Marine tent for the Chin-up Challenge. SSgt Bennett was extremely engaging and Marine Corps incentives could be seen throughout the stadium.
Radnor was ready to go in the second half. Although they gave up another passing touchdown to Conor Foote, the game was not over yet. Mid-way through the third quarter the Raiders scored, which sent the fans into frenzy. On the ensuing kick-off, Radnor's gunner smashed the returner causing a fumble deep in Lower Merion territory. After an incomplete pass and two runs up the middle, Radnor was forced to try a field goal. It was no good and the momentum switched back to Lower Merion.
In the fourth quarter it was a cat and mouse game with Lower Merion trying to run out the clock and Radnor desperately trying to hold on to hope. In the end, it was a 20-7 victory for the underdog Lower Merion Aces and they had their first win over their rival in over a decade. As the students rushed the field and took a victory lap, SSgt Bennett awarded Conor Foote with the MVP medal and trophy. Conor was the obvious MVP choice as he was responsible for all three of Lower Merion's touchdowns and he had two interceptions on the defensive side of the ball. The MVP presentation was followed by the Championship presentation and distribution of the Championship hats. This was a great night of football and it had all of the pageantry of the longest continuously running rivalry in America.
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