WILMINGTON — Archmere took advantage of Delaware Military Academy turnovers and some solid defense in a 27-7 win in the regular-season finale Nov. 12 at Fusco Memorial Stadium.
The game pitted two of the state’s remaining undefeated teams in one of the most highly anticipated games of the season. The Auks turned in one of their best defensive performances, holding the Seahawks offense to a single touchdown and stopping them three times on fourth downs.
“Coach (Omar) Richardson has a great game plan every week. The D line stepped up, linebackers stepped up. Everyone stepped up. We just played together today,” senior Kevin DiGregorio said.
The Auks were forced to punt on their first two offensive possessions, although the second one was muffed by the DMA returner. The Seahawks recovered, but that was a play to remember as the night progressed. The drive began at their own 23 yard line, and on third and seven, Archmere forced a fumble, which was recovered by Cam Killicoglu at the Seahawks’ 22.
Before the Auks ran a play, Delaware Military was flagged for offsides, moving the ball to the 17. Quarterback Chris Albero hit a twisting Conor Udovich, who just got his right toe inbounds as he landed in the end zone to give the Auks the lead with 1:37 left in the first.
The Auks’ defense forced the powerful Seahawks offense to punt again, and Albero and the offense took over at their own 37. Archmere promptly drove down the field, with Albero connecting with Declan Pearson for 14 yards on one play and with Udovich for 34 yards on another to move the ball to the Seahawks’ 17. On second and 10, Albero rolled left and found Udovich again, with the senior taking the ball to the 3. A penalty moved the ball back five yards, but after an incomplete pass, Albero ran off left tackle for the team’s second touchdown.
Delaware Military finally got its offense moving on the final drive of the first half, with senior running backs Cody House and Devon Green moving the pigskin from their own 12 to the Auks’ 43 with a series of runs. The half ended, however, when the Auks’ Nate Morda chased down DMA quarterback B.J. Alleyne for a sack as time expired.
The turnovers came in waves in the third quarter for the Seahawks. House returned the second-half kickoff to the Archmere 29, giving the sellout home crowd something to anticipate. On the first play of the drive, however, Udovich recovered a fumble, and the Auks took over at their own 33.
DMA held the Auks to a three and out, but Cole Fenice’s booming punt handcuffed the Seahawks’ return man, and he lost possession. Archmere fell on the ball at the Seahawks’ 8.
After two plays, the Auks had lost two yards. But facing third and goal from the 10, Albero looked left and found Udovich in the front of the end zone, increasing the lead to 21-0 with 8:54 to go in the third.
Udovich said the offense is successful partially because there are so many options.
“We tried to spread the ball around a lot,” he said. “They talked about trying to take away our key players, but we don’t think we have key players. We think everyone on the team is special. And Chris does a good job spreading the ball around.”
The second wave of turnovers were not fumbles or interceptions, but failures to convert on fourth downs. After the Archmere touchdown, the Seahawks took over at their 36 and drove to the Auks’ 23. On third and a yard, Auks linebacker DiGregorio stuffed DMA’s Dha-Feir Watts-Henry, and the defensive line teamed up to prevent Alleyne from picking up the first down.
The DMA defense forced another punt, and for the second straight drive, the Seahawks began at their own 36. This time, Devon Green ran his team down to the Archmere 28, where they had a third down and three. But with two straight incompletions, DMA again turned the ball over on downs.
A partially blocked punt early in the fourth set the Auks up in great field position at the DMA 19. Albero carried for five, followed by Pearson for another 11. Albero ran again on first and goal from the 3, but he was hit hard and lost the ball. John Dellose, one of his linemen, was in the right position to snag the ball as it left Albero’s hands, and he rumbled into the end zone with some help from his fellow linemen. The extra point was blocked, but the Auks had a 27-0 lead with 9:32 left.
The Seahawks finally got on the board on the ensuing drive, with Khyaire Hines and Devon Green contributing long runs to the drive. Green finished the drive with a three-yard scoring run. With 6:55 on the clock.
The Auks could not generate a clock-draining drive in the second half, but their defense was solid and kept DMA from getting any closer.
Albero finished with 94 yards passing and 37 yards rushing. Udovich had 76 yards receiving on four catches with the two scores. Defensively, Scott Lucarelli had 10 tackles and an interception, and Fenice added nine tackles to go along with a stellar night punting. DiGregorio had eight tackles. The Auks (10-0) will have a first-round tournament bye when the Class 2A field is announced Sunday.
Albero said the Auks’ loss in the then-Division II championship game last December has motivated the team ever since.
“It hit us all hard, but once the offseason hit, we just lifted, everything we had to do to get where we are now and where we want to be in the future,” he said.
DMA finished the regular season 9-1 and also will learn its playoff assignment on Sunday.
All photos by Mike Lang.