In the biggest game of the season, Hodgson played its best game of the season.
The Silver Eagles dominated from start to finish, getting four touchdowns from Ray Jones and holding St. Georges to 53 total yards in a 38-0 victory Saturday in the DIAA Division II football championship game at Delaware Stadium. In the Division I game, Salesianum beat out Middletown 23-7 in a close match until the end.
Second-seeded Hodgson (11-2) finished the season with a 10-game winning streak and won its second D-II state championship, the first coming in 2007. Top-seeded St. Georges finished 11-2, with both losses coming to Hodgson. The Hawks reached the title game in only their sixth season of varsity football.
“Our defense, I’ve been saying it the last couple of weeks, has been locked in,” Silver Eagles coach Frank Moffett said. “They played an outstanding game. My coaches did an outstanding job of game planning for this. It was almost like our coaches were in their playbook.”
St. Georges’ running game had overpowered opponents all season, and the Hawks rushed for 246 yards in a 24-21 loss to Hodgson on Sept. 28. But the Silver Eagles didn’t give an inch Saturday, as St. Georges’ 20 carries netted minus-17 yards.
The Hawks got the first break when Jones fumbled a high snap on the second play of the game and St. Georges’ Dhameer Madison recovered at the Hodgson 23. But St. Georges couldn’t move, and Patrick King’s 42-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left.
The Silver Eagles responded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive highlighted by Jones’ 27-yard pass to Justin Hardy. Jones scored from the 6, and Rakeim Woodland added the two-point run for an 8-0 lead.
St. Georges went three and out, and one play later Jones scrambled and connected with Woodland for 21 yards to the Hawks 24. Two plays later, Jones found a seam on the left side and lunged inside the pylon for a 20-yard touchdown run. A two-point pass failed, leaving Hodgson up 14-0 with 2:06 left in the first quarter.
The Silver Eagles forced another punt, and Jones fielded it on a bounce a step from the right sideline. The junior sprinted to his left, picked up a wall of blockers, then changed directions two more times and zigzagged his way to a 61-yard touchdown.
“I had to get to the wall, keep it going and get behind my blockers,” Jones said. “Then I made some moves to get the touchdown.”
It was only the second time Jones had returned a punt this season.
“That was unbelievable,” Moffett said. “[Jones] is a special kid. … You didn’t see him back there [on punt returns] all year, but it’s playoff time. Sometimes, you have to put your playmakers in position to make plays. That’s what he did.”
Hodgson’s next drive was an old-school thing of beauty, as the Silver Eagles took 6:59 to cover 80 yards in 16 plays. Jones leveled a St. Georges defender at the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the 2 to make it 26-0 with 1:47 left in the first half.
“We worked too hard. We couldn’t come out with a loss today,” Jones said. “We had to stay on top and keep going.”
The Hawks reached the Hodgson 8 on their first drive of the second half, but the Silver Eagles’ Daniel Parker preserved the shutout with an interception.
Then Hodgson went back down the field, with Woodland taking a pitch and tight-roping down the left sideline for the final 39 yards to make it 32-0 with 6:40 left in the third quarter. Deondre Carr added a 3-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
Woodland carried 12 times for 107 yards, while Jones ran 15 times for 53 yards and three scores and completed 3 of 4 passes for 64 yards.
“My quarterback is a special person,” Moffett said. “I’ve said it before, he is one of the best players in the state of Delaware. There’s a lot of good talent here, but I’ll put him right up there. … That kid, he should get some consideration as player of the year, because he was the leader of this team.”
Like everyone else, St. Georges coach J.D. Maull was impressed by Jones. But he also credited the entire Hodgson team.
“He’s a great football player, one of the best players in the state of Delaware,” Maull said of Jones. “But it wasn’t just him today. They beat us up. They beat us up up front, on both sides of the ball. They were the better team.”