Blocked FG lifts Polytech by Cape for 4th straight win

LEWES — With potential overtime looming Friday night, Polytech’s Michael Baker was searching for a way around the Cape Henlopen High line on a field goal attempt.

So Baker quickly devised a scheme. He told two players to take out the player lined up on the end and Baker would run into the space.

Baker fully extended himself into the path of the ball and made contact with it.

The celebration was on. Coaches were jumping up and down, players were mobbing each other. Polytech, yes Polytech, had won its fourth in a row.

Baker’s block of a 50-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds sealed a 13-10 victory for the Panthers in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division matchup.

Polytech, which had entered the season having won just once in its previous 20 games, improved to 4-1 and is 2-0 in the Henlopen North.

“I don’t even know how to describe this. It’s like I’m in a dream right now,” Baker, a senior outside linebacker, said. “It’s just the best feeling to go out there for your team. This is why you get into football, for moments like these.”

Cape Henlopen’s kicker Hunter Simmons had already belted a 40-yard field goal with room to spare in the first half. So the 50-yarder was possible and it’s what Cape went for on third-and-24 with eight seconds remaining.

Baker said when he saw Cape Henlopen come out in its normal field goal position he told teammates Montrell Jones and D.J. Rawley to attack one specific spot on the line. That allowed Baker to find the space necessary to get the block off.

The ball rolled around before David Gamber pounced on it which forced a turnover. After a kneel down by the Panther offense, it was over.

“Montrell and D.J. took that guy out, that’s what being a team is about,” Baker said. “I just went in there and dove and gave it all I had.”

Baker’s blocked capped off a Polytech rally which saw the Panthers come back from a 10-0 second half deficit.

First junior quarterback Vincent Tascione found senior wide receiver Doug Reed on a 73-yard pass play to make it a 10-6 game after the extra point attempt was blocked. Then senior running back A.J. Foster scored on a 16-yard rush on the next drive to go up 13-10.

Polytech turned to Foster a lot in the second half. He recorded a combined 59 yards on offense between rushing and receiving.

“When coach calls your number you got to fight,” Foster said. “We could’ve gave up when it was 10-0 but we said no. We didn’t get this far by folding. We’ve worked hard all season. We went 0-10, 1-9 the last couple of seasons and we’re tired of losing.”

“My offensive line was phenomenal,” Foster added. “Without them running backs are nothing at all. They made every block I needed. That touchdown was because of them not them.”

Foster’s go-ahead score was set up by a game-changing interception by linebacker Chris Gordon.

Cape Henlopen was on an 11-play drive and reached the Polytech 29-yard line before Gordon leaped to snare an errant pass. His return, aided by a Cape personal foul penalty, gave the Panthers the ball at the Cape 46. Foster found the end-zone seven plays later.

“I just did what my coaches told me to do,” Gordon, another senior, said. “They put me in a position and I had to make the play. The team stepped up big at the end. We did that as a team right there. We had heart.”

Polytech’s last four-game winning streak came in 2013, when the Panthers won the first four games of the season in Kevin Smith’s first year as coach.
The Panthers finished 5-5 in 2013 before going 4-6 in 2014 when this current croup of seniors were freshmen.

But Polytech followed that with a 0-10 record in 2015 and a 1-9 mark last year. That has all turned around so far this season.

“It’s so nice to see these kids grow up and take leadership,” Smith said. “We’re finding a way to win now. It’s good for the kids and it’s good for Polytech. It’s been fun going to work on Mondays.”

“We’ve been through the good and the bad and this right now is why you play football,” Baker said. “We all love each other, we’re a family and we’re having the most fun ever right now.”

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