With four touchdown passes and a slew of tackles, Ray Jones had already done enough. But Hodgson needed a little more.
So the quarterback/linebacker/magician delivered, blocking a field-goal attempt on the final play of the game to preserve the Silver Eagles’ thrill-a-minute, 24-21 victory over vo-tech rival St. Georges on Saturday.
“That kid, he’s good,” St. Georges coach J.D. Maull said. “Ray Jones is good. He made some plays out there that just made you say, ‘Wow.’ “
That is what fans of both teams were saying after Hodgson, ranked third in Division II, improved to 2-2 overall and 2-0 in Blue Hen Flight B. The top-ranked Hawks rallied from an 18-7 halftime deficit to take the lead but couldn’t overcome Jones’ spectacular effort and fell to 3-1, 2-1.
St. Georges launched the final drive from its own 29 with 5:49 left. The Hawks reeled off 18 plays, converting on three fourth downs, before spiking the ball to set up Patrick King’s 33-yard field-goal attempt with 12.8 seconds left.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Jones would have none of it, easily breaking through to snuff the kick less than 2 yards off of King’s foot.
“They were more to one side,” Jones said of the Hawks’ blocking scheme on the field goal. “… I came through free, blocked it. Good effort.”
St. Georges ate more than half of the first quarter with a 15-play, 91-yard drive, with Tymiere Griffin blasting in from the 1 for a 7-0 lead with 11:20 left in the second period.
Jones threw his first touchdown pass two plays later, hitting Casey Lee in stride down the right sideline for a 67-yard score. A missed PAT kept the Hawks ahead 7-6.
The Silver Eagles faced fourth-and-9 when Jones found Justin Hardy for a 33-yard touchdown with 2:14 left in the second quarter. St. Georges turned the ball over on downs with 40.2 seconds to play, and Jones again looked for Hardy on the final play of the half. The senior outdueled a defender and came down with the ball for a 35-yard score and an 18-7 Hodgson lead.
“They just trusted me enough to throw the ball to me, and I made a play on it,” Hardy said. “It was just a fight for the ball, and I wanted it more.”
The Hawks finally put a dent in the Hodgson passing game midway through the third quarter, as Taronn Selby intercepted Jones and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown. A two-point run by Taronn’s twin brother, Keyjuan Selby, pulled St. Georges within 18-15.
The Silver Eagles were forced to punt, and the Hawks cranked up the ground game. Griffin broke four tackles on a 63-yard burst to the Hodgson 1, only to see a penalty during the run move the ball back to the 24. It didn’t matter, as two plays later Keyjuan Selby broke three more tackles on a 21-yard touchdown run to push St. Georges ahead 21-18 with 19 seconds left in the third quarter.
The teams traded punts before Jones made the play of the game. Facing third-and-16 at the Hodgson 46, Jones appeared to be sacked before he wriggled free, scrambled to his left and threw to Ruben Saunders for a 54-yard touchdown.
“My athleticism was good enough for me to get away, scramble out and see Ruben,” Jones said. “I saw the corner coming up, and I saw nobody near Ruben or [Rakeim Woodland], so I threw it.”
Saunders adjusted his route, came back toward Jones and caught the pass at the 25. Then he turned and outraced the Hawks’ secondary to the end zone.
“I took off, because I saw him scrambling to my side, and I was like, ‘Buck, throw it!,” Saunders said. “… I had to show my speed. They’re fast, we’re fast. We’re faster, though.”
The St. Georges sideline was left wondering how Jones could escape.
“We’ve got one of our better players wrapping him up, and it’s going to be fourth-and-25 and we’re feeling good,” Maull said. “He gets out of it, like Houdini, and throws a touchdown.”
The Hawks regrouped and went on their final drive, only to see Jones block the kick that could have tied the game.
“Hodgson is a great team,” Maull said. “Their kids kept battling back, and we thought we could wear them down. We thought we had them. We had a chance to win it at the end, and we just fell short.”
The Hawks piled up 247 rushing yards, including 92 from Griffin, 81 from Taronn Selby and 78 from Keyjuan Selby. St. Georges limited Jones to 84 yards rushing on 20 carries, but he completed 8 of 16 passes for 229 yards and the four scores. Hardy caught five passes for 102 yards and two TDs.
“It’s amazing,” Hardy said. “Going out your senior year with a ‘W’ against a team that you don’t like so much, it’s just great.”