In a Blue-Gold matchup percolating with opportunity, two teams finally seized their chances in the final minutes, providing a memorable finish to the 60th annual Delaware All-Star High School Football Game Saturday night.
A two-point conversion made the difference as the Blue prevailed 8-6 when both teams scored in the final 78 seconds in front of what remained in a crowd of 7,124 at Delaware Stadium.
Until then, there had been nine turnovers — seven by the Blue — and both teams had plenty of chances. The Blue finally broke the scoreless tie with 1:18 left on a bit of fourth-and-10 razzle dazzle.
From the Gold 38, quarterback Ray Jones of Hodgson Vo-Tech passed to St. Mark’s Dalton Ziemba, who quickly lateralled the football to A.I. du Pont’s Quadree Henderson. He covered the final 30 yards for the TD. Jones then ran for the two-point conversion to make it 8-0.
“We wanted the magic trick to work, we executed it to its finest and we came out on top,” said Henderson.
The Gold responded, covering 64 yards and scoring on an 18-yard pass from Newark’s Ben Campbell to St. Georges’ Keyjuan Selby with :22 left. But the Blue defense engulfed Sussex Tech’s Kani Kane on a two-point run up the middle and held on for the 8-6 win.
“Great game,” said Gold coach Mike Tkach of Milford. “We had one touchdown called back [Dontwain Cornish’s fourth-quarter interception return on an illegal block]. They came down, did a hook-and-ladder, scored. And our kids answered right back. It was a great high school football game.”
Henderson was named game MVP and Lake Forest’s Cornish the top lineman.
William Penn’s Reggie Carroll rushed for 91 yards and Jones picked up 78 for the Blue, which outgained the Gold 332-154 in total yards. But the Gold intercepted four passes, including two by Woodbridge’s Logan Wescott, the second a one-handed goal-line leap in the second half. It also recovered three fumbles, two by Middletown’s Luke Elentrio.
“If you look at it, everybody up North is better than us,” said Cornish, who also had a fumble recovery. “They’ve got more athletes. They’re faster . . . We just came in with the attitude we weren’t going to be denied, that we can play, too. So we came into this game with a chip on our shoulder, with an edge, just come out and play hard.”
Gold players are drawn from high schools south of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, plus Christiana, Glasgow and Newark. The remainder of northern New Castle County schools fill the Blue roster.
Blue ended the Gold’s four-year win streak and leads the all-time series 31-26 with three ties.
The game benefits the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with intellectual disABILITIES.
“It was a battle for four quarters,” said Blue coach Frank Moffett from Hodgson. “We had too many turnovers but credit to my defense. Those guys battled this whole game. You talk about defenses contributing to a win.”
Wilmington Charter’s Robbie Johnston and Concord’s Brycen Alleyne had interceptions for the Blue
The first half finished 0-0 after four turnovers by the Blue and one by the Gold, but the Blue had a 119-40 edge in total yards. Blue’s first four possessions ended on turnovers.
St. Georges’ Keyjuan Selby swiped Jones’ long third-down fling on the first series of the game at the Gold 15. On the next two in Blue territory, Carroll lost possession – first on a run and then after a reception. Wescott then gave the Gold favorable field position at the Blue 40 after picking off a Matt Williams pass.
But Gold, which also got a critical third-down sack from Appoquinimink’s Nelson Collins to thwart another Blue series, couldn’t capitalize on that opportunity or several others. William Penn’s Myric Rhodes broke up a fourth-down option pass by Gold running back Chucky Auguste of Laurel at the 5-yard line to thwart one threat.
“Even though they had big plays we never gave up,” Rhodes said. “The defense really came together as a team.”
Gold later moved to the Blue 30, but a fourth-down pass by Campbell was picked off at the 9-yard line by Johnston.
With Jones at running back and Williams calling signals in the third quarter, Blue immediately threatened. But Wescott’s acrobatic goal-line grab wowed the crowd. It was the first of three straight Blue possessions that went deep inside Gold territory but netted nothing.
But after the Blue defense stopped Gold at the 34 following Cornish’s interception, Blue had one more chance and the hook-and-lateral did the trick. Blue had called the play earlier but a penalty prevented it from being run.
“We broke a part just a little bit but at the end of the day we came together and we scored,” Jones said. ” . . . [The hook-and-lateral] was set up that way and it happened to work out perfectly.”
Contact Kevin Tresolini at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @kevintresolini.