Polytech wins fifth straight with 21-7 victory over Laurel

Polytech’s AJ Foster starts his TD run in the second quarter against Laurel during 2017 Polytech Homecoming game at Polytech on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

WOODSIDE — Kevin Smith knows the last couple seasons haven’t been too much fun for his players.

Polytech High won just one football game in that stretch.

So to see the Panthers reel off five straight victories is pretty exciting for Smith, Polytech’s coach.

The Panthers notched victory No. 5 with a hard-earned 21-7 win over Laurel for homecoming on Friday night.

“It’s nice for the kids,” said Smith, “The last couple years they’ve had tough years. It’s good for these seniors to experience this.

“It’s like, ‘Hey, look at us now.’ That’s pretty cool.”

Not that there was anything easy about Friday’s win for Polytech (5-1).

Laurel (2-4) was leading 7-6 late in the second quarter when a failed faked punt set up Polytech at the Bulldogs’ 28.

On the next play, quarterback Vincent Tascione hit A.J. Foster on a screen pass and the senior used a downfield block from receiver Tucker Reed to score the touchdown.

Tascione then found Foster again, this time for the two-point conversion that gave the Panthers a 14-7 lead with 44.7 seconds left before halftime.

“It was really important,” said Tascione. “I think if we lost that lead, I think our heads would have been down. It could have went the opposite way tonight.”

Laurel, though, hung around throughout the second half.

At the start of the fourth quarter, a 39-yard pass from quarterback Dalton Perdue to Brandon Faulk gave the Bulldogs a first down at the Polytech 17.
But the Panthers’ defense stood tall after that. Zachary Lott’s 13-yard sack on fourth down ended the drive.

Polytech finally sewed up the win with 54 seconds remaining when Donell Hooker broke some tackles and sprinted away for a 45-yard touchdown run.
“We stay together as a team,” said Tascione. “Our defense definitely came through.”

“Tough games like this, like I told them, a year or two ago we probably wouldn’t be on this side of it,” said Smith. “I’m just really proud of how our leadership is starting to build, our momentum is starting to build and our confidence is starting to build.”

The Panthers got on the scoreboard first in the second quarter when Taascione threw a pass up for Reed. The senior receiver out-manuevered a Laurel defender to get to the ball for a 15-yard TD catch.

The Bulldogs, however, blocked the extra-point kick. That block loomed big when Laurel answered right back with an eight-play, 51-yard scoring drive.
Ja’Mir Townsend shed a would-be tackler in the backfield before scampering 18 yards for the touchdown. Jacob Sprague’s PAT kick gave the Bulldogs their 7-6 advantage with 3:21 remaining before halftime.

Things won’t get any easier for the Panthers from here on out. They finish the regular season with four straight Henlopen Conference Northern Division games starting with next Friday’s contest at Sussex Central.

“We’ve just got to make it a quick win and move onto the next one,” Tascione said about the victory over Laurel. “We’ve got to prepare for the next one, that’s all it is.”

Polytech has never made the state tournament in football. And Smith certainly doesn’t want his players thinking about anything like that right now.

“This Monday, it will be, ‘We need to be 6-1 and 3-0 in the conference,’” said Smith. “We’ve got Sussex Central, they’re a heck of a team. We’ve got our work cut out for us the rest of the way.

“We’re coaching them harder than ever now being 5-1 than we would if we were 1-5. We don’t want them to complacent. And they’re doing a great job. They haven’t become complacent. They’re working harder now than they did on August 15 and I’m very proud of that.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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