CLAYMONT — Chris Albero passed for 246 yards and four touchdowns as Archmere gained a measure of revenge against Howard with a 42-8 victory on Sept. 25 at Coaches Field. The Auks lost to the Wildcats last season in the DIAA Division II state championship.
The start of the game was foreboding for the Auks as Howard took the opening kickoff and marched downfield in less than four minutes. The drive included a long pass from quarterback R.J. Matthews to Timothy Hill that got the visitors deep into Auks territory. Keshaun Watson gained seven yards on a fourth and 2 from the Archmere 19, and four plays later, Matthews his Kevin Ford with a 12-yard touchdown. After a two-point conversion, the score was 8-0.
“I knew our offense just needed to get a shot,” Auks quarterback Chris Albero said. “I was confident going in, and I knew our defense would take care of the job.
That Howard touchdown eventually proved a small impediment for the Auks. After Archmere punted, Howard again was moving the ball. But on a first down from the Auks’ 27, Archmere’s Scott Lucarelli intercepted a pass, and the Auks were off and running (and passing). Albero led the 80-yard drive, connecting with Matt Dellose for 21 yards. Albero ran the ball three straight times for a total of 20 yards. The drive ended in the second quarter with a leaping catch by Conor Udovich from 39 yards out. Albero’s extra point made it 8-7.
The Auks forced a punt and took over at their own 35. Again, Albero went on the run, picking up 18 yards on three carries. A few plays later, Albero found Udovich again, this time down the left side from 40 yards.
Albero said the team saw some things that led them to believe they could do damage through the air.
“We just put our heads together” in developing a game plan, he said of the players and coaches.
Archmere opened the third quarter with the ball at its own 43. Udovich was on the receiving end of a 29-yard pass that took the Auks to the Wildcats’ 30. Albero went to work again, hitting a cutting Declan Pearson in the middle of the field, and Pearson did the rest, scoring from 26 yards out.
It didn’t take long for the Auks to strike again. Howard fumbled on its second play from scrimmage, and the Auks recovered at the Wildcats’ 41. Albero and Johnny Kim connected on a 32-yard pass on first down, giving the Auks a first and goal from the 9. Kim carried for four, and Kieran Udovich did the rest, bullying his way in from five. The Auks’ lead grew to 28-8.
Pearson was influential in the next Archmere score. Howard was driving late in the third, and Matthews fired a pass over the middle. It struck Lucarelli in the helmet and popped straight up in the air. Pearson was there for the easy pick, and the Auks started at their own 25.
The Auks, working the clock, went on a time-consuming drive that included a 23-yard pass to Max Ewing and a 13-yard pass to Kim. Inside the red zone, Albero converted a fourth and inches. After a few Auks penalties, on first and goal from the 24, Albero tossed a ball to Kim, who covered the final 20 yards after the catch for the team’s fifth touchdown.
After a lengthy delay because of an injury on Kim’s touchdown, the game resumed. Thomas Pinto scored the final touchdown on a one-yard run with 1:38 to go.
Albero completed 11 of 13 pass attempts, and he added 50 yards on the ground. Conor Udovich had three receptions for 108 yards, and Kim also caught three, his for 69 yards. The Auks’ defense forced four turnovers. Lucarelli was outstanding with 11 tackles, the interception and a sack. Kevin DiGregorio had six tackles. The Auks (3-0) travel to Alapocas next Saturday to battle Wilmington Friends at 3 p.m.
That’s all that Albero and the Auks are looking at right now. “It’s nice,” he said of Saturday’s win, “but it’s on to Friends. It’s another checkmark on the list.”
The loss snapped the Wildcats’ win streak — including postseason — at 17. Howard (2-1) plays the second of five consecutive road games next Saturday at noon.
All photos by Jason Winchell.