Unbeaten Smyrna defeats Cape for Henlopen North title

LEWES — Already up two touchdowns, the Smyrna High football team knew if it could score on the first drive of the second half it could put the game away.

But the Eagles were thrown a curveball when they had to start that drive on their own two-yard line.

That wasn’t a problem, though.

A 13-play, 98-yard drive set the tone for the second half as Smyrna downed Cape Henlopen 56-16 on Friday night in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division contest. The Eagles clinched their second straight Henlopen North championship and improved to 9-0 overall (5-0 Henlopen North).

“All we know is to score and try to get into the end zone as quick as possible,” said junior running back Will Knight. “Going 98 yards built momentum up for the whole team and pumped us up. All we did was execute and play our game to get the end zone.”

The second consecutive Henlopen North crown for Smyrna follows a 46-year title drought.

“It really means a lot coming from a small town,” Knight said. “We don’t get this often. This is very important to us.”

This was a close game until the second half. Cape Henlopen tied it at 16-16 on a 24-yard field goal by Hunter Simmons with 6:31 left in the second quarter.

Cape's Zach Dale miss's a pass as Smyrna's Jermey D'Aguiar defends.

Cape’s Zach Dale miss’s a pass as Smyrna’s Jermey D’Aguiar defends.

But it was all Smyrna after that. Leddie Brown scored on a 15-yard rush on the next drive before he added another touchdown right before halftime from three yards out. Smyrna got the two-point conversion both times and took a 32-16 advantage into the break.

Knight capped off the 98-yard drive by plowing into the end zone from a yard out. Meanwhile, the Smyrna defense was shutting out Cape Henlopen (4-1 Henlopen North, 6-3 overall).

Cape only entered the red zone once in the second half and Smyrna forced a turnover on downs when junior cornerback Jeremy D’Aguiar broke up a pass in the end zone.

“We said at halftime we had to keep fighting and put them down,” D’Aguiar said. “They’re good receivers and we knew that they were going to pass the ball more. We knew we had to play physical and stay over the top.”

The Vikings had some success in the first half with the deep ball, throwing to 6-foot-2 wide receiver Zach Dale. Dale caught the first touchdown of the game on a 20-yard reception. But the Eagles were able to keep him in check in the second half.

“I don’t have any 6-2 corners I could throw out on him and we dance with who we got,” said Smryna coach Mike Judy. “They responded to it. The kid likes to get physical when the ball is in the air and our kids got physical back and I thought that took them out of the game.”

Brown led Smyrna with three rushing touchdowns while Knight added a pair and senior quarterback Nolan Henderson rushed for one. Henderson also threw for a touchdown on Smyrna’s final drive — a 37-yard pass to Keshaun Tolbert.

While the first touchdown in the second half took 13 plays, Knight needed just one snap for his second touchdown. After D’Aguiar’s pass breakup, Knight took a handoff for 84 yards to the end zone.

“He’s got that in him and if he hits the hole he’ll punch it,” Judy said. “He can run through people or run around them. I’m blessed to have him.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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