WILMINGTON — St. Elizabeth has taken full advantage of the new three-class alignment in Delaware high school football in 2021. The Vikings went 9-1 in the regular season, dispatched Wilmington Charter in the 1A quarterfinal, then overwhelmed No. 3 Tatnall, 33-0, in the semifinals on Dec. 4 at Abessinio Stadium.
St. Elizabeth will take on No. 1 Laurel for the state championship. The Vikings’ last appearance in a title game came in 2010, when they defeated Archmere for the Division II crown.
To get there, they had to dispense of the Hornets for the second time this season. When the teams met on Sept. 25, St. E’s rolled to a 44-6 victory, but the rematch was much more competitive.
There was some question about the health of Vikings running back Quasim Benson, who has been battling an ankle injury for the past several weeks. But he tried to show that he was ready for this big game, going for 13 yards on his first carry. Chris Caracter scampered for 33 yards a few plays later, and Benson wrapped up the eight-play, 71-yard drive with an 8-yard run up the middle for the 7-0 lead with 7:19 to go in the first.
The Vikings got the ball back at their own 33 with 2:49 to go in the first, and they embarked on a drive that would consume 67 yards and end with Benson again standing in the end zone. It included a 20-yard pass from quarterback Brett Smick to Jimmy Garrett, and a drive-saving offsides penalty on Tatnall with the Vikings facing a fourth and five. Benson ran three of the four plays it took to score after that flag, the last one from four yards out. The extra point was no good, and the lead stayed at 13-0.
The Hornets ventured deep into St. E territory on their next drive, thanks primarily to the running of Micah Stamper. The Vikings’ defense stiffened, however, and a bad snap on a third and long resulted in a punt and a missed opportunity for Tatnall.
A miscue to open the second half let St. Elizabeth tighten its grip on the lead. The Vikings kicked off, but the returner fumbled, and St. E recovered on the Hornets’ 31. Pass interference on third down resulted in a first down for the Vikings at the 16, and on the next play, Smick hit Mikey Downes, who easily covered the remaining real estate for a 19-0 lead.
Again, Tatnall moved the ball, getting to the Vikings’ 13, with one of the plays being a 47-yard completion from Tatnall quarterback Charlie Simpers to Rahshan LaMons that went for 47 yards and a first and goal. But St. Elizabeth turned up the defensive pressure, and on fourth and goal from the 13, Downes tackled LaMons to cause a turnover on downs.
The Vikings put the game out of reach with an 84-yard march that ended with Benson going 12 yards around left end for his third score. Smick threw to Garrett early for a 25-yard gain and another for 24 yards to Downes, who reached the Hornets’ 25. Benson scored on an end around a few plays later. He added the final touchdown of the game with nine minutes remaining.
St. Elizabeth improved to 11-1, while the Hornets finished 7-5.
All photos by Mike Lang.