With precipitation ranging from a heavy mist and steady rain Friday night, keeping the ball on the ground was the best option in the Blue Hen Flight A football tilt between A.I. du Pont and Newark.
That game plan couldn’t have proven more perfect for the Tigers. A.I. got a dominant performance from its offensive line and a spate of big plays from its backs in an easy 49-7 victory.
“We knew that the weather was going to be what it was,” Tigers center Wesley Jones said. “As a unit, we all came together because we wanted to establish the run.”
On A.I.’s first play from scrimmage, quarterback Freddie Heard threw an incompletion. For their next 11 plays, the Tigers kept the ball on the ground, and that was extremely productive. Seven of those rushes went at least 5 yards, capped by an 8-yard option-pitch touchdown run by running back Aaron Limberry.
That drive set the tone. The Tigers (4-2, 3-1 Flight A) rolling up 208 yards rushing on 24 carries en route to building a 36-0 halftime lead.
“If we couldn’t run the ball tonight, there wouldn’t be much we were going to be able to do,” A.I. coach Zeb Blum said. “[The offensive line] are the guys that allowed that to happen tonight, and the guys with the balls followed their blocks real well and did what they could do.”
Even on the occasions when the Tigers’ offensive line wasn’t able to create huge running lanes, A.I. still proved effective running the ball, as Newark (2-4, 2-3) missed a number of tackles. With backs the quality of Limberry, Heard and Anthony Christopher, those missed tackles turned into big gains.
“We came out in the rain and did our thing,” Limberry said. “I couldn’t do it without [the offensive line]. They just led me to the house.”
When the game was still close, a number of Yellowjackets miscues on offense did them in. They committed three first half turnovers, and that help decide the outcome by late in the second quarter.
Also helping the Tigers take control early, of course, was their highly productive running game.
“This was definitely a game to establish the run because of the conditions, the rain,” A.I. offensive guard Jamar Garfield said. “Pretty much, overall, I think we did a good job establishing the run for the first time this year. I’m proud of us.”