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Archmere Academy’s running game, defense come up big in football victory over St. Elizabeth: Photo gallery

PJ Blessington picks up yards on a rush. He ran for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Dialog photo/Jason Winchell

CLAYMONT — St. Elizabeth and Archmere, two teams adjusting to significant personnel changes coming into the 2023 high school football season, met on Sept. 9 at Coaches’ Field on the Archmere campus. The Vikings struck first, but the Auks proved to have too much and went on to a 42-8 win.

It was a step up in class for St. Elizabeth, which competes in Class 1A, while the Auks are members of 2A. Still, the Vikings showed their mettle on the first drive.

With St. E’s facing a third and 10 from their own 32, freshman quarterback Cole Andrews connected over the middle with Gavin Andrews for a 27-yard reception and a first down at the Auks’ 41. A few plays later, Cole Andrews threw a 19-yard pass to Jose Maldonado, setting up a first and goal at the 6. On second down, Cole again hit Gavin, who made a jumping catch and leaned into the end zone as he came down. Jihad Brown added the two-point conversion.

Late in the first, the Auks forced the Vikings to punt, and it didn’t take long for their offense to strike. PJ Blessington took an option pitch from quarterback Miles Kempski on first down and scampered 73 yards for a touchdown. Kempski added the two-point conversion to tie the score with two minutes left in the first.

Archmere took advantage of a turnover to go ahead. Jack Dellose recovered a fumble on the second play of the second quarter, giving the home team possession at the Vikings’ 32. Kempski kept the drive going on fourth down, taking a keeper 11 yards to the St. Elizabeth 16. Two plays later, Jack Bradley went over the left side for a touchdown to make it 14-8.

Archmere would add a safety late in the half when Matt Victoria sacked Cole Andrews in the end zone. The Vikings’ defense prior to that play had stuffed the Auks on a goal-line stand.

The Auks extended the lead with an 80-yard drive that covered four minutes late in the third quarter. The first play was a 53-yard pass from Kempski to Drew Duncan down to the Vikings’ 32. Blessington finished it with a 13-yard run during which he pushed through several defenders.

The Auks added three more scores in the fourth quarter.

Blessington led the way with 92 yards on six carries and two touchdowns. Duncan had four receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Blessington had seven tackles and a fumble recovery, and Kempski added five solo tackles. The Auks (1-0) stay home next week for a visit from Saint Mark’s on Sept. 16 at 11 a.m.

St. Elizabeth (0-1) hosts Indian River on Sept. 15 at Abessinio Stadium.

All photos by Jason Winchell.