A lightening quick start propelled the St. Mark's Spartans to a 21-7 home victory over visiting Cape Henlopen in the first round of the 2012 DIAA state football tournament Friday night.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Spartans travelled 63 yards on a drive that culminated with a 7-yard run by junior running back Michael Catalano at the 7:47 mark of the first period. Jacob Beck's extra point kick pushed the lead to 7-0.
"Yes, that start definitely helped us tonight against a good football team, it really got our offense in the flow tonight. We lost the second half, but we played very well in the first half" said St. Mark's coach John Wilson.
Disaster struck on Cape Henlopen's first possession, as a Vikings' fumble was recovered by the Spartans' senior Tyler Psenicska at the 37-yard line. Several plays later junior quarterback Zach Whitehead hits DeAndre Davis with a 24-yard touchdown pass at 2:59 of the first quarter to build the lead to14-0. The drive ground up another 63 yards, giving the Spartans 130 yards of total offense in the first quarter.
Once the quarter ended, the St. Mark's offense slowed down, while the Vikings defense began to get stronger. The Cape Henlopen offense was finally able to mount a sustained drive midway through the second quarter, but the Spartan defense held their ground with about six minutes left on a fourth and goal play to deny the Vikings a golden opportunity to get on the scoreboard. As the second quarter drew to a close, the Vikings missed a long range field goal attempt, leaving the score 14-0 at the half.
In the second half, the Vikings' defense shut down the Spartans' offense, limiting the home team to little yardage in the third quarter. But at the same time, Cape's offense was not able to find pay dirt against a rapidly improving Spartan defense.
Cape was finally able to get on the board at 6:26 as junior wide receiver Dumarius Gooch collected a pass from senior quarterback Diaz Nardo to cut the lead to 14-7.
The Viking defense continued to hold the Spartans in check, but Cape was pinned back on a trick punt play be back up quarterback Matt Williams, who rolled right, faked a run, then punted toward the end zone. His kicked was downed at about the Cape three-yard line. Three plays later, Cape punted to Davis, who returned the ball 35-yard for a clinching touchdown with 2:08 remaining in the well-played contest.
"Each week we grow up a little bit in some areas. We grew up last week and we grew up this week. This was the first every playoff game on our home field, so there was a lot of excitement and energy here tonight, and I can't say enough about the excellent staff we have here at St. Marks," said Wilson.