BRANDYWINE HUNDRED — Salesianum scored a touchdown on the last play of the game on Nov. 2 against Middletown to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to one point. The Sals decided to go for the win, but the two-point conversion attempt was no good, and the Cavaliers escaped with a 28-27 win at Brandywine High School.
The Sals trailed, 28-21, when they got the ball back on a punt at their own 20 yard line with 18 seconds remaining and no timeouts. On the first play, quarterback Dylan Mooney hit Jack Kelley over the middle for a 20-yard gain. After the Sals spiked the ball to stop the clock and a Middletown timeout, Mooney went down the left side and found Josh Johnson, who was tackled at the Cavaliers’ 19.
Sallies, the fifth-ranked team in Division I by 302Sports.com, ran up to the line of scrimmage with four seconds to go and elected not to spike the ball. Mooney dropped back and lofted a pass into the corner of the end zone, where James Johnson had gotten open two yards behind the nearest defender. The deficit was one with no time left on the clock.
The Sals’ coaches decided to try to end the game by going for two. Mooney nearly slipped on the damp field as he took the snap, but he recovered and faked a handoff to Andrew Watkins. Liam Mara headed five yards into the end zone, but Mooney’s pass was just out of his reach, and the Cavaliers could finally celebrate.
It was an entertaining end to a game that featured its share of fireworks. The opening kickoff spun to a near stop at the 3-yard line, where it was picked up by Najair Smith. He ran through the coverage, reaching the end zone and giving the second-ranked Cavaliers a 7-0 lead 15 seconds into the game.
Sallies’ first drive ended with an interception, and Middletown went to work. They drove about 70 yards and had a first and goal at the Sals’ 2. The defense stuffed the Cavs twice, but on third and goal, T.J. Butler carried the ball in to extend the lead to 14-0 with 2:59 left in the first quarter.
The Sals’ defense stiffened in the second quarter, and the offense found a rhythm. A 63-yard drive ended when, on a third down and seven, Mooney found a wide-open James Johnson over the middle. The receiver streaked toward the right front corner of the end zone, cutting the Middletown lead in half with 7:32 remaining until halftime.
Salesianum tied the game on its next drive. They started at the Cavaliers’ 15 after an errant long snap on a punt sailed over punter Anthony Pepper’s head. Watkins drove in from two yards out to tie the score. On the drive, Watkins also converted a fourth down and two with a four-yard run.
The Cavaliers restored their two-touchdown lead in the third. On the first drive after the half, Smith did most of the damage on the ground during a 70-yard drive that ended with Pepper carrying the final yard. Middletown forced a punt, and Cavs quarterback Braden Davis scored on an 11-yard keeper up the middle after a convincing play fake.
Mooney showed off his own play-fake abilities at the end of the third. He capped a 66-yard drive with a short scoring run after faking a handoff to Watkins with 46 seconds left in the quarter.
The Cavaliers improved to 8-1 and wrap up the regular season next Saturday at Mount Pleasant. Kickoff is at 10:30 a.m.
The Sals (5-4) travel to rival Saint Mark’s on Friday night for a 7 p.m. start.