McKinley may not be as solid as last year's Harvard Cup championship team, but the Macks showed Friday they are not ready to give up the title just yet.
In a game it had to have, McKinley defeated Lafayette, 8-6, before an estimated crowd of 200 at rain-soaked War Memorial Stadium.
The Macks improved to 4-2 in the league and jumped back into the playoff hunt. Lafayette (4-2) falls into a second- place tie after its second straight loss.
Both teams still have a shot at the league championship should South Park (4-1) and Hutch-Tech (4-1) lose today.
But Friday's game was vital to McKinley, which was coming off an 8-0 loss to Kensington a week ago.
"This one was huge because if we lost, it probably would have killed our chances to make the playoffs," said halfback Mike Edwards. "We didn't want to take a chance and have to depend on someone else to help us get there."
The Macks' win was not pretty. In fact, the game was slowed by penalties and turnovers. But first-year coach Jerry Scarcella can thank his defense for keeping the season alive.
McKinley held Lafayette to 75 yards and consistently made big plays when needed.
"I'm so proud of these kids. They played really hard," said Scarcella. "We've been so banged up with injuries, but it was nice to see them step up and do the job."
Although there were several scoring opportunities, the defenses kept both offenses under control.
There were a few flashes of offensive brilliance, however.
Lafayette got on the board first as tailback Eddie Fountaine (60 yards on 17 carries) took a pitch around the left side of the line, shook a couple of tacklers and tip-toed down the sideline for a 19-yard touchdown. The score remained 6-0 as Fountaine was stopped short of the goal line on a two-point conversion run.
Edwards showed great hands and body control diving for a 23-yard touchdown pass from Geoff Terry with 34 seconds left in the first half.
"I saw the ball in the air, and I knew my only option was to dive for it," Edwards said.
It appeared the teams would go into halftime tied at 6-6 when a 15-yard illegal celebration penalty forced McKinley to try for two from 18 yards out.
But the distance meant little to tailback to Arthur Hall, who blasted up the middle for two points.
Perhaps the key play of the game occurred late in the third quarter when Lafayette had a second-and-goal at McKinley's three.
Fountaine took the handoff, but was met in the hole by 6-foot-5, 285-pound defensive tackle Nick Szalay. Fountaine fumbled and Richard Harden recovered for the Macks.
"We do a lot of changing up on defense, so it was just a matter of finding the right formation," Szalay said.