The Royals (9-1 overall, 7-1 league) rallied in the game, taking the lead for good on Brian Fili's 3-yard touchdown run and Dan Gledhill's extra point with 5 minutes, 19 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The host Tigers (1-9, 1-7) rebounded from a season of lopsided losses, interrupted only once by a win over a Radnor team that has dropped 30 straight contests.
"I told them after the game that they could be proud, that they didn't have to hang their heads," Smith said. "We just played one of the best teams in the county to a standstill. Maybe we should play on Friday the 13th more often."
There was nothing strange about the start of the game.
Upper Darby took the opening kickoff and drove 68 yards in six plays for a touchdown.
Nate Ryan (118 yards, 14 carries) covered the final 44 yards on a burst up the middle and the Royals had a 7-0 lead almost before the fans had settled in their seats.
The Royals took a 13-0 lead the next time they got the ball. Fili's 16-yard run with 3 minutes, 50 seconds left in the first quarter capped a 47-yard, 6- play drive. For Upper Darby, it was two possessions, two touchdowns and too, too easy.
"We had visions of Radnor," said Shingle, referring to a 48-0 win over the Red Raiders the previous week. "Our kids thought it would be easy."
Marple started to eliminate those thoughts after the ensuing kickoff. Two Chris Battersby runs netted 6 yards before Jim Falls' 19-yard pass to J.J. Heron gave the Tigers a first down at the Upper Darby 33. Battersby gained 3 yards before Falls ran for 22 on an option around left end. Falls hit Heron with a 6-yard touchdown strike two plays later to make it 13-6.
Marple tied the game when Wayne Wilson picked off Anthony Petril's screen pass and dashed 20 yards into the end zone with 8:44 left in the half. Jude Costello's extra point made it 13-13.
The Tigers took a 19-13 lead on their first possession of the third quarter. Falls (9 for 14, 100 yards) started the 60-yard, 6-play drive with a 31-yard pass to Heron. Junior Vasquez ended it with a 6-yard touchdown run.
Marple's defense, led by linebacker Jesse Ayers (three sacks, one fumble recover), tried to hold on the rest of the way.
The Tigers dodged a bullet when Fili's apparent 3-yard touchdown run with 10:06 left in the game was negated by a procedure penalty. But the Royals recovered a fumble on the Marple 22-yard line minutes later. Fili's 3-yard touchdown run and Gledhill's extra point capped a 5-play drive and gave the
Royals a 20-19 lead. Upper Darby kept Marple penned in its own territory the rest of the game.
"At halftime, they (the Tigers) were convinced they could win," Shingle said. "And you know something? I was, too."
The Tigers didn't win the game, but they earned some respect. For one night, it was more than enough.