CLAYMONT — Woodbridge and Archmere treated fans to a shootout at the OK Corral for the first four series of their DIAA Class 2A semifinal game Nov. 25 at Coaches Field. Four and a half minutes into the contest, the Blue Raiders and Auks were tied at 14.
After Woodbridge scored for a third time early in the second quarter, however, taking a 22-14 lead, the second-seeded Auks put up the next 29 points, taking control on their way to a 56-28 victory and a berth in the state championship for the third time in four years.
For a while, it appeared that the teams might combine for 200 points. The Bridge, seeded third, opened with the ball at the Auks
30, and on first down, Traci Johnson flew down the right side for a 70-yard touchdown just 17 seconds in. The two-point conversion was no good, giving the Auks the chance to take the lead, which they did in a hurry. Archmere, mixing runs and passes, needed just six plays to cover 93 yards, the final play a 36-yard quarterback keeper from Miles Kempski. He had scored on the play before that, but a penalty negated the score, so he just did it again. Cole Fenice’s extra point put the Auks on top.
Johnson struck again on the next play from scrimmage. He covered all 63 yards in one play, then added the two-point conversion to put the Blue Raiders on top, 14-6. The Auks, starting at the Blue Raiders’ 48, went right at it. Kempski carried for two yards before hitting Drew Duncan with a 46-yard pass for six.
Many fans had yet to reach their seats.
Both defenses forced a punt before Woodbridge scored once more. Johnson left the field after carrying the ball four yards, so the Blue Raiders went to the air. Quarterback Logan Moran found Ji’Kare Banks open over the middle, and Banks did the rest, taking the ball to the house with 9:31 remaining in the half. Johnson returned to add another two points.
That would be it for the Blue Raiders on offense until the fourth quarter as the Auks for the most part held Johnson in check. Offensively, Archmere kept coming. Kempski scored his second touchdown on a 16-yard keeper two minutes after the Blue Raiders re-took the lead, and P.J. Blessington added the two-point conversion. The Auks had the ball deep in Woodbridge territory with time running out in the half, but an interception snuffed out that scoring threat.
No worries. The Auks engineered a 55-yard drive on the ground, with Kempski, Brendan Burke and Ryan Hagenberg running the ball. Hagenberg capped it off with a 4-yard scamper up the middle for a 28-22 lead with 7:32 left in the third.
A Woodbridge fumble three plays later gave the ball back to Archmere at the Blue Raiders’ 24. This time, Kempski did it with the help of his blockers. He ran for five yards on first down, then covered the remaining 19 for a score. He also added the two-point conversion to extend the lead to 14.
The Auks forced a punt and again started with good field position at the 45 of the Bridge. On the seventh play of the drive, a fourth and 10 from the 31, Kempski unloaded the ball as he took a lick from a Blue Raiders defender, and Duncan was on the other end. That made the score 43-22 with 11:53 remaining.
Johnson showed he still had something in the tank, gaining all 65 yards on a four-play, 65-yard drive. This time, he scored from 49 yards out. The Blue Raiders then successfully executed an onside kick, getting the ball at the Auks’ 45. Suddenly, there were some nerves on the home side of the bleachers.
The Auks’ defense, however, forced a turnover on downs, and Blessington would add a 1-yard touchdown. Burke ended the scoring a minute and a half later, intercepting a tipped pass for a 65-yard pick six.
Kempski ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns, and he threw for 171 yards and two scores. Duncan caught both TD passes and had four catches overall for 111 yards. Blesington led the defense with 10 tackles, while Christian Wittmeyer had nine tackles and an interception.
The Auks improved to 9-3 and will take on No. 1 Caravel at Delaware Stadium at 3 p.m. on Dec. 2. The Buccaneers defeated the Auks, 28-2, on Sept. 29, the last time Archmere lost.
No stats were available for Woodbridge. The Blue Raiders finished the season 9-3.
All photos by Mike Lang.