The old adage is: you can’t stop him, you can only contain him.
On Friday night, you couldn’t stop Isaiah Spencer. Or contain him.
The Delsea Regional junior put on a clinic in the first half, rushing for 197 yards on just five carries, scoring three touchdowns as the fourth-seeded Crusaders rolled to a 46-14 victory over fifth-seed Central Regional in the South Jersey Group III quarterfinals.
The win advances Delsea, winners of six straight to go to 8-2 on the season, to the semifinal against the winner of the game between top-seed Manasquan and Wall.
“We played well tonight,” Delsea coach Sal Marchese said. “Our defense dictated things tonight and we played fast on offense.”
“We told our guys not to pay attention to the papers and who is predicted to win,” Delsea senior quarterback/defensive back Rob Rolle said. “When it comes playoff time, everybody has the same record. We came out here and set the tone early
The Golden Eagles (5-4), playing in their second playoff game in three seasons, but seeking first playoff win since 1994, actually had a chance to take the lead early as Marquis Drumright connected with Thomas Koenig on a 33-yard touchdown pass, but it was called back due to offensive pass interference. The penalty took the wind out of the visitor’s sails.
“The momentum changed there,” Central coach Willie Jacobs said. “There was no arguing the call, but it definitely deflated us.”
Although the momentum changed, it wasn’t as quick as Jacobs thought as Delsea turned the ball over on its next possession and Central tried to deliver another quick strike, but Drumwright’s pass was intercepted by Rolle, who returned it 53 yards to the Central 27. Four plays later, Rob Hooks took the ball in from five yards out to give the Delsea the early 7-0 lead.
After holding Central on its next possession, the Crusaders again exploded as on the first play from scrimmage, Spencer took the ball and broke around the Central sidelines, going 81 yards for the score.
“I just keep running angry,” Spencer, who passed the 1,000 yard mark for rushing this season during the game, said. “I refuse to go down.”
“We had some missed blocks on our offensive line and he still managed to run through,” Marchese said.
Delsea added four scores in the second quarter to put the game out of reach. Rolle, who also intercepted two passes, scored on a keeper from 38 yards out. Brendon Slade, who also had an interception, atoned for his first quarter fumble by scoring from a yard out.
“Nobody was discouraged (after the fumble),” Slade said. “I just got back out there and did what I had to do.”
The other two scores in the quarter came from Spencer, who added touchdown runs of 47 and 14 yards as Delsea built a 40-0 lead going into halftime. While the offense was clicking, Marchese was quick to credit the defense.
“The defense made the stops they had to make,” Marchese said. “They kept them (Central) from getting first downs and moving the ball.”
Chris Onoroto closed out the scoring for Delsea early in the third quarter as he scored on a 20-yard run. Central scored twice, snapping the Crusaders’ 10-plus quarter scoreless string. The first score came on a 19-yard run by Javon Hardy late in the third quarter and the second score came in the final minutes as Cody Zsoldos scored from a yard-out.
Despite the outcome, Delsea had an admirer in the opposing coach.
“They’re good, they’re good,” Jacobs said of Delsea. “They are the best team we’ve faced all season. They are the total package.”