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Stellar defensive effort, three Chris Albero TD passes carry Archmere past Saint Mark’s in DIAA football tournament: Photo gallery

Matt Dellose dives into the end zone for an Archmere touchdown. Dialog photo/Jason Winchell

CLAYMONT — The last time Archmere and Saint Mark’s met on the gridiron, the Spartans were knocking on the door for a win when time ran out. The two teams met again on Nov. 27 in the quarterfinals of the DIAA Class 2A tournament, and the Auks made sure there would be no repeat performance.

Chris Albero threw for three touchdowns, and the Auks’ defense forced four turnovers while holding Saint Mark’s to three first downs in a 41-0 win at Coaches Field. The win propels the Auks into the semifinal round next week against Delaware Military Academy.

The Spartans had trouble getting any offense moving, but early on, the Auks also struggled, particularly with turnovers. Archmere fumbled on the first offensive possession of the game, but their defense forced a three and out from the Spartans. They took over on their own 49-yard line after the punt.

It was a quick drive for the Auks. Albero ran for eight yards on first down, and on the very next play, he found Conor Udovich down the middle for a 43-yard touchdown, thrilling the large crowd that had gathered on the lawn behind the Patio to watch the game.

The Auks’ defense was just as stout. Saint Mark’s best drive of the first half started toward the end of the first quarter at the Archmere 49. Jack Burns caught a pass from quarterback Chase Patalano on second and nine for 11 yards and the Spartans’ initial first down. But they could not move the ball any further, and the Auks regained possession after a punt, although they were at their own 16.

Archmere kept the ball on the ground on the cold, windy afternoon, with Declan Pearson gaining 20 yards on one run and 14 on another, with Micah Walker and Johnny Kim also contributing. The Spartans’ defense stiffened in the red zone, and Albero came on to make a 35-yard field goal with 7:49 left in the half.

Another three and out for the Spartans led to an Auks possession starting at the Saint Mark’s 41. Six plays later, Albero rolled right and hit Matt Dellose with an 11-yard touchdown pass to add another seven to the Auks’ lead.

A bad snap on a punt gave the ball back to the Auks at the Spartans’ 27 in the last two minutes of the first half. On third and 12, Albero connected with Udovich while he was being tackled, but Udovich came up a yard short of the first down. Albero kicked his second 35-yard field goal, with the ball just sneaking over the crossbar. The halftime lead was 20-0.

The Spartans could not get anything going offensively into the second half, and the Auks added insurance points. Albero’s longest completion of the day went for 64 yards and a touchdown for Pearson, who did most of the work on the run after the catch. An errant pitch by Saint Mark’s on their next drive cost them as Cole Fenice fell on the loose ball in the end zone just 33 seconds after the previous touchdown.

Walker added the last score on a 17-yard run around the left end early in the fourth quarter.

Albero completed eight passes on 11 attempts for 175 yards, and he ran for another 80 yards to go with the two field goals. Udovich had three catches for 70 yards. Defensively, Fenice had a big day with eight tackles and and interception to go along with his touchdown.

The Auks (11-0) will meet DMA on Dec. 4 in one Class 2A semifinal, with the location and time to be announced. DMA defeated Caravel on Saturday. Archmere defeated the Seahawks, 27-7, on Nov. 12.

Saint Mark’s finished the year 8-4, its highest win total since 2014. The Spartans also won their first tournament game since that season last week against Howard.

All photos by Jason Winchell.