Undefeated Delmar outlasts Milford in 44-36 thriller

Sophomore running back Dante Trader tries to break free from a Milford defender in Friday night’s win. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

MILFORD — Unbeaten Delmar High knew it was in for a challenge when the Wildcats set foot inside Briggs Stadium to face a motivated Milford football team Friday night.

Coming off a seven-point state title loss to the Wildcats last December, Milford was seeking revenge in the Week 9 Henlopen South showdown.

“We knew this was going to be a big challenge, especially with last year’s state championship game being really close,” said Delmar starting quarterback A.J. Angello. “So, we knew we had to come out here and put on a pretty good game.”

Senior running back Te’Shawn Dennard was ready to step up for the challenge as he ran for three rushing touchdowns and returned a kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown in the Wildcats’ thrilling 44-36 victory over the Bucs.

“We definitely had to be patient,” Dennard said. “Things opened up late for us. The blocking was great, especially through the holes, the only thing we really had to do was beat the linebacker through the hole and then it was nothing but daylight.”

The win, sets up the Wildcats (9-0) with a Henlopen South showdown against Woodbridge (7-2) for the Southern Division title next Friday night.

Milford’s defense kept Delmar’s high-powered offense in check early on, forcing a turnover on downs by coming up with a goal-line stand on Delmar’s first possession.

Milford’s Bevensky Augustin recovered a Delmar fumble on the second drive of the game and the defense forced a second turnover on downs to keep the Wildcats off the board in the opening quarter.

Angello started the scoring with a one-yard QB keeper on to put the Wildcats ahead 7-0 at the 9:11 mark of the second quarter.

Quarterback A.J. Angello rolls out and looks for an open receiver before tucking it and running against Milford’s defense.

Senior running back Rahshawn Price scampered for a 31-yard touchdown at the 2:12 mark of the half to tie the game up 7-7 and sparking a scoring outburst for both teams.

Dennard answered, on the first play of Delmar’s ensuing possession, with a 66-yard touchdown run to re-gain the seven-point lead with 1:53 remaining.

Price’s second touchdown run in less than a minute, this time from 62 yards out, knotted the game up 14-14 heading into the halftime break.

“It was definitely a very intense, very physical game and it was back-and-forth,” said Angello. “At one point, we scored a touchdown on the first play of our drive, we kicked it, and the first play of their drive they scored a touchdown too. It was intense.”

Both offenses came out flat in the second half, with heavy rain falling at this point, combining for four consecutive punts on the half’s first four drives.

Junior Te’Kwon Dennard finally gave Delmar the momentum by tackling Price in the end zone for a two-point safety with 3:06 to spare in the third quarter.

“After the safety we got – by my little brother [Te’Kwon] – it ignited the whole team and after that we were just like ‘we have to pick it up, this game is too close,’” said Te’Shawn.

Receiving the ball on a free kick following the safety, Delmar’s next drive started at Milford’s 42-yard line and it took just 1:04 for Dennard to cash in with a 12-yard touchdown run. The successful extra point put the Wildcats ahead 23-14.

Freshman quarterback Shawn Saxon had an answer on the ensuing Milford drive, tossing a 56-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Gaij Copes. The Jonathan Gaglione extra point made it a two-point ball game once again.

Sophomore running back Dante Trader dashed down the field for a 50-yard touchdown run of his own with just 36 second remaining in the quarter to once again put Delmar ahead nine points, 30-2.

Dennard’s 52-yard rushing touchdown with 10:19 left in the game gave the Wildcats the 37-21 lead and seemingly put the game out of reach for Milford’s offense.

With the help of three 15-yard Delmar penalties, Milford quickly drove down the field on its ensuing possession and Saxon capped the drive with a one-yard QB keeper. The successful two-point try from Saxon to Gillis suddenly made it an eight-point game, 37-29, with 7:06 to play.

That’s when Dennard made his presence known on special teams.

On the ensuing kickoff, Dennard picked the ball up at his own one-yard line and 99 yards later found himself in the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the night.

“We were prepared for onside return, but things didn’t go as planned and they decided to kick it over our head,” he explained. “I was thinking that the ball was going to go in the end zone, but it stopped just short and from there I saw there was nothing but an open lane – I just had to beat two defenders and I was going to the house.”

Milford’s offense, as it had all night, had an answer of its own on the ensuing possession. The Bucs drove down the field and senior RB/WR Tayone’ Matthews capped it with a four-yard touchdown to pull the score to within 44-36 with 3:12 remaining.

It was too little too late for the Bucs, as Delmar used its backfield depth to pick up a couple of first downs and run the remaining seconds off the clock to preserve the hard-fought win.

“They really hung in there, grinded and put their heads down and worked hard,” Angello said of the backfield. “It was awesome, they never gave up.”

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