Francis McVey was still simmering over a fourth-down pass he had dropped inside the red zone when he lined up to for a play that would turn the fortunes of Archmere Academy’s football season on Friday night.
On the Auks’ second play of the second half, the senior running back scored on a 71-yard catch-and-run from quarterback Brian Rogers to tie their game with Delaware Military Academy at McKean. Then, with 5:52 left in the game, McVey swept far around right end and cut up the sideline for a touchdown that delivered Archmere a 14-7 nonconference victory while likely punching its ticket into the Division II state playoffs.
It was the sixth win in seven games for the Auks (6-3), the only blemish being a one-point loss to Caravel. They finish the regular season against St. Elizabeth.
“My quarterback came right up and said to me ‘I’m throwing the ball next play,’ ” McVey recalled after his second-quarter drop. “I said, ‘Throw it up there; I’m going to go get it.’ “
Rogers rolled left and found McVey 30 yards along the left sideline and launched the pass. McVey outjumped one defender to snag the high pass, landed, planted and outraced two others back across the field for the score.
“He went up and made a play as he always does,”Rogers said.
While the defense weathered the storm of DMA quarterbacks Sean O’Brian and Jacob Hudson challenging the edges and a host of running backs trying to power inside in the second half, Rogers was beginning to make a difference in the run game.
“They did a great job taking away our weapons,” Auks coach Jerry Ambrogi, referring to the inside counter runs of McVey and Jack Malloy.
On the go-ahead 68-yard drive, Rogers gained 29 yards on four carries. Then, it was McVey who went around right end, aided by standout tackle Conor Furey and just about anybody else who could block for the winning TD.
It was also the touchdown that makes things that much more difficult for coach Joe Aviola and his DMA squad. A win likely would have put the Seahawks in the Division II tourney. Now, at 5-4, it may be a long shot.
“Now, unfortunately, we’re in a wait-and-see situation,” said Aviola, clinging to the hope that those bonus points from playing a difficult schedule make a difference. “There’s four or five other teams that are just like us.”
The rotating O’Brian-Hudson combo was responsible for the only scoring drive of the first half, covering 80 yards in two plays. In what amounted to a 47-second blur, Hudson took off through the middle of the line, broke left and covered 45 yards, followed by O’Brian’s 35-yard scoring sprint off the right side. David Rhoades added the kick for a 7-0 lead with 1:03 remaining in the first quarter.
The Seahawks also were threatening just before the end of the half, driving as far as the Archmere 23-yard line before a personal foul pushed them back and time ran out.
McVey did return the opening kickoff 97 yards for an apparent touchdown – which was nullified by a block-in-the-back penalty. The Auks did drive to the DMA 20- and 23-yard lines on separate drives in the half. But Tyler Lewis’ sack on fourth down stopped the first and McVey couldn’t haul in a fourth-down pass from Rogers on the other.