Just before halftime, facing third-and-6 from his own 5-yard line, Brandywine football coach Tom Wood issued the ultimate vote of confidence in his team.
Wood called for a deep pass. Sayvon Willis floated the bomb down the left sideline, and Rich Hill pulled it in and screamed 95 yards for a touchdown Thursday.
It was one of many huge plays made by the Bulldogs, who are ranked 10th in Division II and proved they are for real with a 27-18 victory over fourth-ranked Archmere.
“I have all the confidence in the world in these guys,” Wood said. “… They work hard. They do what I ask them to do. It’s just great. We’re playing really well right now.”
Brandywine dismantled St. Elizabeth 39-7 last week for its first season-opening victory since 2007. Suddenly, the Bulldogs appear to be a contender in Blue Hen Flight B.
“We’re more successful because we’re more disciplined,” said Brandywine running back Tyrezz Walker, who hurt the Auks with 175 yards on 17 carries. “Coach is on us more about our academics, and we’re keeping our head in the game and doing whatever he says.”
Jack Malloy scored first for Archmere (0-2) on a 14-yard run. The Bulldogs (2-0) answered with Walker’s 8-yard scoring burst and a two-point run by Hill to take an 8-6 lead with 3:02 left in the second quarter.
Then the Bulldogs’ P.J. Groome intercepted a pass at the Brandywine 1. The Bulldogs were backed up, but Willis went deep to Hill.
“I knew they were coming after the safety, and they were in press coverage,” Wood said. “I think our guys are pretty good and they’re fast, so I told them to lay it up and we’ll get it.”
When the play came in from the sideline, Willis knew what to do.
“I wasn’t really surprised, because we were doing a lot of that in the last game,” the quarterback said. “We knew we were going to do it. We’ve gained a lot of confidence in just two games.”
The long score sent Brandywine into the locker room up 15-6, and the Bulldogs took advantage of a roughing-the-kicker penalty to open the second half with a 98-yard drive. Walker ripped off a 54-yard run behind the blocking of linemen Jordan Guy, Nick Morella, Cody Hoesterey, Robert Davenport and Chris Schiavi. Willis’ 7-yard keeper pushed the Brandywine lead to 21-6 with 8:17 left in the third quarter.
Malloy’s 3-yard run pulled Archmere within 21-12. But the Bulldogs turned up the defense on the Auks’ next possession, sacking quarterback Brian Rogers three straight times and deflecting a punt to take over at the Archmere 7. Stefon Johnson’s 2-yard run on fourth-and-goal pushed Brandywine’s lead back to 27-12 with 2:14 to go.
Rogers completed 12 of 21 passes for 157 yards and Malloy rushed 10 times for 91 yards for Archmere. Brandywine sacked Rogers seven times, with De’Xuan Cadogan-Smith earning three of those and Josh Fontana getting two.