Kevin Trader rolled out to his right, looked downfield and set his shoulders. With a few seconds left and 33 yards to go, everyone thought he was throwing.
That was the plan. But he kept rolling out, saw the space open in front of him and took off. A little while later, 33 yards to be exact, he was celebrating in the end zone.
Trader’s late scramble with 15 seconds left lifted Delmar to a 14-7 victory at Lake Forest in a Henlopen South matchup with huge playoff implications. The win moves Delmar up to second place in the conference and keeps them alive for a playoff berth.
“We already told them if you win, you got a chance to sneak in; if you lose, you’re done,” Delmar head coach David Hearn said.
The game looked destined to go to overtime before the Wildcats caught a huge break with under a minute left. The two teams exchanged punts in the final three minutes before Lake Forest took over at the 50-yard line with 1:15 left and no timeouts.
On the second play of the drive, Lake fumbled running an option, and Delmar’s senior fullback/linebacker Cory Mattox pounced on the loose ball. It allowed Delmar to have one last shot in regulation with 33 seconds and all of its timeouts remaining.
Two plays later, Trader was streaking to the end zone.
“It was a waggle right,” the senior said of the play call. “I saw the defense shifting and I saw a big lane, and then they weren’t shifting. Then I was gone.”
Lake Forest had one more chance to force overtime. The Spartans began their final drive with seven seconds left on their own 33-yard line. After an incomplete pass to begin the drive, senior quarterback Ty’Kee Scott found Tavon Scott on the left sideline, but he was tackled immediately on the Lake 45-yard line as time ran out.
Delmar had to come back from a 7-0 halftime deficit to win. Senior running back Brandon Garcia gave Lake Forest an early lead in the first quarter with a 10-yard rush for a touchdown.
The score would stay that way as the teams exchanged punts for most of the first half. Delmar got on the board on its first drive of the second half thanks to a 52-yard rush by senior running back De’Kevious Helton.
Lake threatened in the fourth, driving all the way down to the Delmar 34-yard line with 10:16 left. The Spartans elected to go for it on fourth and short, and the Delmar defense held by a matter of inches to set the stage for the late fumble and Trader’s heroics.
The fumble was the only turnover of the game.
“Both teams played pretty sound,” Hearn said. “Both teams sold out with a good hitting game. They played us very well, like they always do, and our kids played hard.”