Jalen Sutton-Christian wasn’t looking to score.
“It never crossed my mind that I would have two touchdowns,” Sutton-Christian said.
The Imhotep Charter senior quarterback just wanted to walk out of Benjamin L. Johnston Memorial Stadium on Friday night with the first victory of the season.
Thanks to Sutton-Christian’s two touchdown runs, plus some strong work by juniors Saint McLeod and D’Shaun Seals, Imhotep Charter beat Malvern Prep, 28-14, in a clash of winless teams on a cool, cloudy night at the Germantown Supersite.
“We’re young, and we been fighting through some adversity,” said Sutton-Christian, who scored on runs of 4 and 6 yards and also threw a 2-point conversion pass for Imhotep Charter (1-3), the No. 8 team in The Inquirer’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Top 10.
McLeod scored on a 21-yard run as part of a 13-carry, 82-yard rushing performance, and Seals made plays as both a receiver and return man for the Panthers.
“He’s vicious,” Imhotep Charter coach Nick Lincoln said of the 5-foot-7, 155-pound Seals. “He’s our energy.”
Imhotep Charter’s defense generated four sacks and made the game’s biggest play as freshman end Asir Moore returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown.
Sutton-Christian said he made a deal with Seals before the game to push the Panthers into the win column after three tough defeats against quality opponents.
“’Little Shiz’ was making plays,” Sutton-Christian said of Seals. “He told me, ‘I got you.’ I told him, ‘I got you.’
“We were going to make sure we found a way to get out of here with the W.”
For Malvern Prep (0-3), freshman quarterback Bryce Pippen ran for one score and passed for another, and junior all-purpose Lonnie White Jr. put together a strong performance, especially as a receiver.
Competing against a secondary with four juniors with NCAA Division I scholarship offers, White caught 10 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.
His scoring grab was spectacular, a diving snag of a back-shoulder throw by Pippen. On the play, White just managed to get his toes inbounds.
“He had a night,” Lincoln said of White.
Malvern Prep coach Dave Gueriera said mistakes cost his team.
“We said all week the team that makes the fewest mistakes was going to win this game,” Gueriera said. “We made more mistakes than them.
“We have to get back to work, build on what we did right and fix what we did wrong.”
Something had to give when the best 0-3 team around played the best 0-2 team around.
Both squads, widely regarded as among the best in the area, were looking for their first victory after opening the season with tough defeats against top opponents.
“I think maybe we needed those losses,” McLeod said. “It made us focus.”
In setbacks against La Salle, DeMatha (Md.) Catholic and Betgen (N.J.) Catholic, Imhotep Charter’s offense struggled a bit, managing just 24 total points.
But after a slow start, the Panthers were able to generate yardage and points on Friday night. Sutton-Christian was 14-for-21 passing for 122 yards, and McLeod was able to consistently find running room, especially in the second half.
After Malvern Prep pulled to within 14-7 midway in the third quarter, McLeod capped a 65-yard drive with a skirt around left end for a touchdown that, combined with Sutton-Christian’s conversion pass to Kristen McAdams, made it 22-7.
“I saw the linebackers clog the middle, and I went outside,” McLeod said.
Sutton-Christian’s second touchdown run made it 28-7, giving the Panthers some breathing room midway in the fourth quarter.
By then, a full moon was peaking out from behind the clouds, and the outlook for the rest of the season was considerably bright for Imhotep Charter.
“We needed this,” Lincoln said. “There were some things said outside our program. All week our theme was, ‘Who’s got us? We’ve got us.’ ”
Malvern Prep 0 0 7 7 – 14
Imhotep 0 8 14 6 – 28
I: Jalen Sutton-Christian 4 run (Rahmir Stewart run)
I: Asir Moore 39 interception return (run fail)
M: Bryce Pippen 2 run (Andrew Monteith kick)
I: Saint McLeod 21 run (Kristen McAdams pass from Sutton-Christian)
I: Sutton-Christian 6 run (run fail)
M: Lonnie White 11 pass from Pippen (Monteith kick)