Malvern Prep grad Alex Hornibrook is doing his part at Wisconsin.
There weren’t too many casual college football fans hunkering down at noon on Saturday to catch the big Wisconsin-Georgia State tilt. Pardon the apathy, but it was a lot more fun to watch Louisville trample Florida State and Carson Wentz’s North Dakota State Bisons stun host Iowa than it was to catch the Badgers tangle with some team that appeared to be more suited for a remake of Necessary Roughness than to be a real, live football program.
But when Wisconsin stumbled toward halftime leading just 6-3, people started to take notice. And when redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook took the field in relief of Badgers starter Bart Houston midway through the third quarter, many of us snapped to attention. A Malvern Prep alum and the nephew of former Friar and MLB catcher Ben Davis, Hornibrook had seen some mop-up duty in last week’s blowout win over Akron. But this was different. With UW on upset alert, Hornibrook was being asked to enliven an offense that had made Georgia State look like the Atlanta Falcons (back when they were good).
The lefty completed his first two passes and led the Badgers to a TD that pushed the count to 13-3. And after the Panthers rallied to take a 17-13 lead, aided in part by a Hornibrook interception, he led Wisconsin to a pair of scores that secured a 23-17 triumph.
Afterward, Hornibrook was calm and composed. He didn’t separate his shoulder patting himself on the back, and he didn’t demand that he start next week in East Lansing against 3-0 Michigan State. “I’m ready to go whenever they call me,” he said. “If they want me to go in in the first or fourth quarter or not at all, I’m just waiting on that call from coach.”
Several hundred miles to the southwest, as the storm clouds gathered and the Oklahoma State offense was in full froth, Pittsburgh linebacker Matt Galambos was giving his team a charge—just as he had throughout his Panthers career. With Pitt trailing, 31-24, Galambos scooped up a Cowboy fumble and returned it two yards for a touchdown. Although the Panthers dropped a 45-38 decision in a game delayed two hours by lightning, Galambos—a Haverford School graduate—finished with four total tackles and was again a key part of the Pittsburgh defense.
Last week, the senior was part of a brouhaha that involved his clapping before the snap during the Panthers’ win over Penn State. It’s a perfectly legal maneuver, and Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi says his teams do it as a form of communication in loud environments, which Heinz Field certainly was during the game with the Nittany Lions. The hubbub obscured Galambos’ many contributions to the Panther program, but those who’ve watched him patrol the middle of the Pitt defense know just how much he’s meant during his time 300 miles west of here.
The loss to OSU was tough, but at least the Panthers are 2-1. Fellow Atlantic Coast Conference member Virginia is trying to earn its first victory of the season after three defeats. Sophomore tight end Evan Butts and senior right tackle Michael Mooney have worked to correct the Cavaliers troubles as key parts of the offense. Butts played at Episcopal Academy and has three catches this season, while Malvern graduate Mooney has been a part-time starter and full-time contributor over the past three seasons. As the Cavaliers prepare for their final tune-up against Central Michigan before beginning the ACC season, Butts and Mooney will get the chance to help UVA turn things around. They should take some confidence from their fellow Inter-Ac grads, who’ve helped their teams move forward, whether as part of the starting lineup or while saving the day when an unheralded interloper starts to get a little too happy with itself.
EL HOMBRE SEZ: Eagles fans who consulted travel agents regarding Super Bowl LI ticket and hotel packages after last week’s win over the Clowns should wait a few weeks before putting down their deposits. The Birds looked good against an overmatched opponent but must show they can sustain the good fortune. Although tonight’s game is in Chicago, the Bears are an erratic team with questions throughout the lineup. If the Eagles can pressure Jay Cutler into one of his trademark sloppy performances, it should be a productive road trip. We’ll learn a lot more about the team this evening. My pick: Bears 23, Eagles 20.