Hodgson erupts for first Division I football state title 54-31 over Middletown

Middletown’s Mason Murphy makes a diving catch at the 1-yard line against Hodgson in the second quarter of Saturday’s Division I football championship at Delaware Stadium. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

NEWARK — It took only three years for Hodgson Vo-Tech to ascend to the Division I football mountaintop.

Hodgson’s explosive offense carried it to its first Division I state title, defeating Middletown 54-31 on Saturday afternoon at Delaware Stadium. It capped an unbeaten season for the top-seeded Silver Eagles (12-0).

Hodgson only moved up from Division II three seasons ago. It was the fourth all-time football state championship for the Silver Eagles, who also won Division II titles in 2007, 2013 and 2014.

“This team played with a real sense of confidence this year,” said Hodgson coach Frank Moffett Jr., a Caesar Rodney High graduate. “They felt like when they got out there, they were the best players on the field.”

Hodgson became the sixth school to win football state championships in both Division I and Division II, joining Christiana, Dickinson, Glasgow, Seaford and Middletown.

The Silver Eagles did it by shattering the record for most points scored in a championship game. The 54 points surpassed William Penn’s Division I title team in 2014 and Hodgson’s 2014 Division II team who each scored 42.

Middletown’s Ryan Cheaton tackles Hodgson’s Reginald McNeil in the second quarter.

The combined 85 points by both teams easily set a record for most combined points in a title contest.

Hodgson scored on every possession except two, one of which was the game’s final drive where the Silver Eagles only took kneels.
“Everything was working for us,” said junior quarterback C.J. Henry who threw for four touchdowns.

Sophomore running back Josh Ames rushed for three touchdowns — his longest was from 52 yards out. Ny’Ghee Lolley recorded a pair of touchdown catches while Xavier Jones and Elizjah Lewis each caught one.

Darius Hale added a rushing touchdown to round out the scoring for Hodgson.

“When we score in that magnitude, I get it, because we practice hard and we come out here and compete hard as well,” Moffett said.
Hodgson had reached the state tournament both of its first two seasons in Division I but fell in the semifinals each time.

The Silver Eagles entered the 2018 tournament undefeated but dropped a heart-breaker to Salesianum. That loss inspired the theme for Hodgson’s 2019 season, written on the back of sweatshirts, “Unfinished Business, No Excuses.”

“This team was special this year,” Moffett said. “Last year’s team was a really good football team, this year’s team was special though. They really wanted this game.”

The Cavaliers’ Zy’Aire Tart rushes after a catch.

“It’s very relieving,” Henry said. “Last year, we came up short. The year before, we came up short. To be able to put it all together feels great. This means a lot to the whole Hodgson community,” Henry said. “They come out and support us every week and we really appreciate them.”

Hodgson broke a streak of four straight Henlopen Conference Northern Division state champions (Smyrna 2015-2017, Sussex Central 2018.). It is the first Blue Hen Conference team to win the state title since William Penn in 2014.

Middletown fell in the title game for the sixth time since 2010. The Cavaliers played in eight of the 10 championship matches this decade and went 2-6 in those games with their lone titles coming in 2011 and 2012.

The Cavaliers were led by quarterback Braden Davis who threw for three touchdowns, two to Demetric Denson and one to Ben Martin. Jaheim Wing provided a rushing touchdown while Dru Beckford scored on a fumble recovery.

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