Sam Brown isn’t usually the type of running back who can be contained for very long.
So, La Salle’s 6-foot-3, 190-pound sophomore was a bit frustrated Saturday afternoon against visiting Malvern Prep.
After all, Brown had scored five touchdowns (three as a receiver) in the previous week’s domination of North Penn.
Room to run, however, was hard to come by against the Friars, winners of the last three Inter-Ac League championships. They shared the title with Germantown Academy in 2016.
But, Brown finally broke free late for 73 yards and a score, sparking the Explorers to a 24-13 come-from-behind victory.
Technically, La Salle, which figures to be a Catholic League contender after struggling last season, trailed for only about 36 seconds thanks to Brown’s heroics.
“I knew my team needed me,” said Brown, who finished with 146 yards and a score on 26 carries. He also added two catches for 46 yards and a score.
La Salle had seized control early after senior quarterback Jack Machita hit Brown for a 39-yard score in the first quarter.
The Friars were without junior starting quarterback Lonnie White, who was still recovering from a concussion suffered last week.
Without him, Malvern mustered just a single yard of total offense, one first down, 6 passing yards, and minus-5 rushing yards in the first half.
La Salle’s defense, led by seniors Dillon Trainer, Ryan Savage, Sam Graham, and Tyler Meachem, was fierce early.
Untimely, however, turnovers by the Explorers (3-0) kept the Friars (0-2) within range, and Malvern trailed just 10-6 at halftime.
Malvern senior Caimin Hayes’ 83-yard interception return early in the second quarter set up the Friars’ first-half touchdown.
“When you don’t put a team away and let them hang around, this is what happens,” a Malvern Prep supporter said in the end zone after the Friars took a brief lead late in the third quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Bryce Pippin, who finished 7-for-19 for 115 yards, had just helped the Friars secure a 13-10 lead after plunging in from a yard out with 24.6 seconds left in the third quarter.
Pippin’s long pass to Kellen Mathias got the Friars into scoring position.
That go-ahead drive, however, was sparked by back-to-back forced fumbles by the Friars defense.
La Salle, deep in Friars territory, recovered the first fumble in the sequence.
Malvern senior linebacker Christian Bockrath forced the second fumble, and fellow senior Isaac White recovered it near the Friars’ 25-yard line.
Brown was sidelined during the series. He had taken a hard hit on his left leg during the previous drive.
“I got hurt on that one play, and when I got back in the game I had to make something big happen,” he said.
The Explorers added extra blockers to help Brown break free, which he did with 11 minutes, 48 seconds left in the game.
“We ran a toss to the outside, and fullbacks [Timothy] Mehlmann and [Jalen] Devose made great blocks on the outside, and I broke loose,” Brown said.
“This taught me to get through things,” he added later. “Starting out early I was frustrated, but I knew I’d have to keep pushing through it.”
La Salle 7 3 0 14 -- 24
Malvern Prep 0 6 7 0 -- 13
LS: Sam Brown 39 pass from Jack Machita. Jake Gandolfo kick.
MP: Stephen Rose 8 run. Kick failed.
LS: Gandolfo 31 field goal.
MP: Bryce Pippin 1 run. Ronan Swope kick.
LS: Brown 73 run. Gandolfo kick.