With the biggest play of the season fluttering toward him, Corey Pritchard didn’t think about what he should do.
He just did it.
Pritchard returned a blocked punt 38 yards to set up a critical touchdown, and St. Georges went on to knock off Hodgson 28-19 in a Blue Hen Flight B thriller on Saturday at Hodgson.
The Hawks (7-0, 6-0 Flight B) came into the game ranked eighth in Division II, despite their perfect record. The Silver Eagles (6-1, 4-1) had been ranked first all season. Now, the rankings are due for a major shuffling.
“We remember last year,” St. Georges coach J.D. Maull said, referring to a 16-6 Hodgson victory. “We got it done today. Like I said to the kids, this was no upset. We felt we could win the game.”
The Hawks were clinging to a 21-19 lead late in the third quarter when they forced Hodgson to punt. Jaire Hicks, a junior tight end/defensive end stormed through to get a hand on the boot.
The ball deflected up and floated down at the Hodgson 46. Pritchard, a junior playing his first game of the season after sitting out due to a leg injury, caught it in stride and took it to the Hodgson 8.
The play caught the Silver Eagles napping, a frustrating moment for coach Frank Moffett.
“When the punt was blocked, we didn’t go for it,” Moffett said. “I thought we became spectators. We need to understand the situation. When the punt is blocked, it’s live. Their guy just saw the ball, caught it and ran.”
Three plays later, Taronn Selby lunged in from the 1 for his second touchdown of the day and a 28-19 lead.
St. Georges forced another Hodgson punt, and took over at its own 20 with 10:12 to play. The Hawks caught a major break when the Silver Eagles jumped offside on a punt, giving them a first down and allowing them to run six minutes off the clock and effectively seal the victory.
“We had some turnovers, we had some penalties, and a lot of those came at critical times,” Moffett said. “It affected us today, and we lost to a good football team.”
There was no shortage of offense in the first half. St. Georges jumped to a 14-0 lead on 1-yard runs by Vaughn Simmons-Williams and Selby, only to see Hodgson answer with Rakeim Woodland’s 84-yard kickoff return with 4:48 left in the first quarter.
The Hawks came right back with a 53-yard touchdown run by Tymiere Griffin. But Hodgson pulled within 21-19 at the half, as Ray Jones flipped a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jeff May and scored on a 7-yard keeper.
But that was all the damage the Silver Eagles could do, as the Hawks held them to 53 yards rushing. Meanwhile, Simmons-Williams ran for 95 yards and Griffin added 93, most of them right up the middle.
When asked what message the Hawks’ victory sends to the rest of the state’s Division II title contenders, Griffin said, “St. Georges football is no joke.”
There was no laughter from Hodgson.