Disruption interrupts football game between Bonner-Prendie and Upper Darby

UPPER DARBY – The 18th renewal of the rivalry football game between Upper Darby High and host Bonner-Prendergast was stopped with 10:51 left in the fourth quarter on Friday when fans of both teams stormed the field in an apparent panic.

With Bonner in the lead, 12-0, it was known that there had been pipe hits on a stadium fence, causing alarm. A source at the game believed there was a pre-arranged plan for someone to shout “gun” in an effort to create a stir. This was not confirmed, and police did not immediately report it as a possibility. Police confirmed a “fight”.

A Bonner-Prendergast football player lies on the pitch as coaches and players disperse during an off-pitch disturbance that stopped play against Upper Darby on Friday night. (Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group)

Once a disturbance began in the seating area, a massive part of the crowd estimated at over 1,000 rushed onto the field towards the intersection of Lansdowne Ave. and Garrett Road. Players from both teams were also seen clearing the field in that direction.

Police from several districts arrived quickly, and within minutes an Upper Darby police officer called for an announcement to be made for fans to calmly exit the establishment, stressing, “There is no active emergency at the moment”.

Fans complied and there were no further disruptions. Police reported one injury, which was linked to running over fleeing people.

“There have been reports of a shooting at the Monsignor Bonner/Upper Darby football game tonight,” Upper Darby Police tweeted. “These reports are FALSE. There was a physical fight, the game was canceled and the police cleared the area. Please don’t come to the high school area.

Bonner-Prendie had just taken a 12-0 lead by the minute of the fourth quarter. Brothers coach Jack Muldoon said he was told the match was official.

Upper Darby players and coaches immediately retreated to their school, about a quarter mile away on Lansdowne Ave. After meeting his players, Royals coach Dave Barr was guarded by a PR sentry and told to limit his comments. He was not allowed to speak about the game or whether he considered it official, saying only, “I’m glad my kids and my players are safe.”

Bonner-Prendie scored in the first quarter when Jalil Hall caught a 23-yard pass from Colin Finnegan. A 27-yard run from Avery Hankey gave the Friars a 12-0 lead.

“I feel really bad,” Muldoon said. “Dave Barr is one of my closest friends. He does such a great job there and I feel bad for his kids and I feel bad for all the people here. I hope that doesn’t create something he really shouldn’t because people like to create hysteria.

An Upper Darby football player walks among the spectators after an off-field brawl caused a rush to the field and the suspension of a match between the Royals and Bonner-Prendergast on Friday night. (Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group)

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