On the coldest night of the season so far, Salesianum had to work overtime to advance to the state championship game.
The Sals went home with a warm, tingly feeling, as Troy Reeder scored on a 10-yard run on their first play of the extra period for a 41-35 victory over Dover in the semifinals of the DIAA Division I Football Tournament on Saturday at Baynard Stadium.
Second-seeded Salesianum (10-1) will meet top-seeded Middletown for the Division I championship at 6 p.m. next Saturday or Sunday at Delaware Stadium. With the University of Delaware football team unlikely to earn a spot in the NCAA playoffs, the game will likely be played on Saturday. Third-seeded Dover finished its season at 9-3.
The Senators miraculously tied the game on Darius Taylor’s 65-yard fumble return with 43 seconds to play. But Sallies recovered a fumble on Dover’s second play of OT, setting up Reeder’s game-winning run.
It only took the Sals three plays to light up the scoreboard in the first quarter. Matt Sgro lofted a pass to Brian O’Neill, and the 6-foot-7 receiver made an over-the-shoulder catch and rolled down the right sideline for a 58-yard touchdown.
The teams traded punts, and then Dover answered in a big way on the first play of its second possession. Marcellus Pack sprinted to the left on a speed sweep and found clear sailing for 82 yards to tie the game at 7 with 5:12 left in the first.
Salesianum responded with one of its typical, grind-it-out drives, taking 12 plays to go 53 yards. Reeder took it in from the 1 for a 14-7 lead. The Senators tied it immediately, as Laquwan Moody blew down the right sideline for an 82-yard kickoff return on the final play of the opening quarter.
Dover caught the Sals by surprise with a hurry-up offense on its next series, firing off six running plays in just 1:57. Deon Wright blasted up the middle for a 23-yard touchdown to push the Senators up for the first time, 21-14.
Sallies went right back to work on offense, going 57 yards in 11 plays. Reeder took it in from the 1 again to tie it with 3:48 left in the first half.
Then Dover missed two chances to score before halftime. The Sals’ Zach Jarome intercepted a pass at the Sallies 5 with 14 seconds left. Dover’s Melvin Jackson recovered a fumble on the next play, but the Senators missed a 26-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the half.
O’Neill recovered a Dover fumble on the second play of the second half, and the Sals went 44 yards in eight plays. Reeder’s 6-yard run made it 28-21.
It stayed that way until the Senators turned it over on downs at the Sallies 35 midway through the fourth quarter. The Sals rolled 65 yards in seven plays, with Michael Sanzone scoring from the 9 for a 35-21 lead with 4:41 to play.
Dover came back, as Raekwon Bouges took a short pass from Nick Spadafino, made a sharp cut and went 46 yards for a score with 3:23 to go.
The Sals were chewing up the clock, with Sanzone gaining 26 yards on a big third-and-11 play to keep it moving, when Dover came up with a huge play. Robert Knox knocked the ball loose, and Taylor scooped it and scored to tie the game with 43 seconds left.
The Sals were content to send it into overtime, then quickly made the plays to win. Reeder’s final 10-yard run pushed his total to 101 yards on 29 carries. Pack finished with 169 yards on 13 carries for Dover.