Two fourth quarter touchdowns propel Kennett to 26-13 win09/12/2021 10:25PM ● By Steven Hoffman
For three quarters last Friday night, the Oxford Hornets and Kennett Blue Demons were about as evenly matched as two football teams could be—one team’s big play on offense was balanced out by the other team’s big play on defense. Oxford’s offense picked up more yards through the air, but Kennett’s running attack gained more ground than Oxford’s. The first downs each team had gained were roughly the same. The teams combined for nearly 800 yards of offense and, yes, those yards were divided almost equally. And the score—after 36 hard-fought minutes—was tied, 13-13.
Then Kennett scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to walk away with a 26-13 win over Oxford.
Kennett claimed an early lead—and carried it for a long stretch of the game—thanks in large part to the Blue Demons’ ability, at least early on, to convert on third down. On the first drive of the game, Kennett quarterback Kalen Frazier connected with wide receiver Luke Good on a 7-yard pass play to move the ball to the 17 of Oxford. Running back Julian Sparacino then scored a touchdown with a 17-yard run.
The Hornets answered right back with a touchdown drive of their own that covered 85 yards. The big plays included an 11-yard run by Dean Hunsicker, a gain of 7 yards by Dustin Long on a quarterback keeper, and a nice pass from Long to Ryan Evans that covered 24 yards. Dom Pantalone scored the touchdown on a 4-yard carry. The point-after attempt was no good, and it was 7-6.
On Kennett’s next possession, Frazier once again connected with Good to move the chains on a third down play, while Sparacino moved the chains on a third-and-short situation. The next time Kennett was facing a third down on this drive, the Hornets’ defense responded and forced the Blue Demons to attempt a field goal. Kennett kicker Ryan Barker connected on a 31-yarder, making it 10-6.
The second quarter was scoreless as both teams’ defenses started making big plays when they were pushed. Oxford threatened to take the lead early in the second quarter, driving into Kennett territory on a 15-yard reception by Hunsicker and then a 26-yard run by Pantalone. A few plays later, facing a fourth-and-20, Long threw a pass along the right sideline that was picked off by Kennett’s Luke Good, thwarting the scoring bid.
A few minutes later, it was the Blue Demons who were driving after good runs by David Lillis (7 yards and then 12 yards) and a 13-yard gain by Frazier on a quarterback keeper. But on third-and-long, when it looked like Frazier might have found an open receiver, Oxford’s CJ Boyer knocked the ball away to end the drive.
On Oxford’s last possession of the first half, Long threw a beautiful deep pass to Evans, who pulled it in and raced all the way down to the 9-yard line for a 61-yard gain. But Kennett’s defense dug in its heels, and that’s as close as the Hornets got to the end zone. Kennett’s 10-6 lead continued to stand. On Oxford’s next offensive series, another big play—this time a 56-yard run by Long—put Oxford in a similar situation. Once again, Kennett’s bend-but-don’t-break defense made a stand and the Hornets turned the ball over on downs. The bad news for the Blue Demons was that they were taking over deep in their own territory, and after some early struggles on third down, Oxford’s defense had really solidified. The Hornets’ defense forced Kennett to go three-and-out, and the punt gave Oxford excellent field position a the 32 of Kennett.
On first down, Oxford got good blocking up front and Hunsicker was freed up for a 24-yard run to the right that moved the ball to the 8. Hunsicker finished the game with nearly 100 yards of total offense, half of it on the ground and the other half on pass catches. An encroachment penalty against Kennett moved Oxford even closer with a first down at the 3. Two straight carries gained little, but then Long called his own number, and with blocking in front of him by Jacob Wahl, the quarterback raced into the end zone from 5 yards out. With 5:35 left to play in the third, Oxford had its first lead of the game.
Kennett managed to tie the game at 13-13 when the Blue Demons marched deep into Oxford territory with a 24-yard run by Lillis and a 16-yard completion from Frazier to Dylan Boddy. Lillis finished the game with 131 rushing yards. Barker’s second field goal of the game tied the score with 2:06 to play in the third.
Oxford quickly marched down the field. Long threw a nice touch pass to Hunsicker that gained 34 yards, but Kennett’s defense then stopped Oxford on four straight plays, forcing a turnover on downs.
Frazier answered Long’s nice pass with one of his own—a 36-yard completion along the left sideline to Connor Jung that moved the ball all the way to the 1-yard line. Frazier called his own number and plunged into the end zone, making it 19-13.
Oxford ran 18 plays on the next drive, but it frustratingly ended with an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-four from the 26 of Kennett. There was just 4:35 left to play by the time the drive ended.
It would take Kennett just a minute to score again and put the game out of reach. Lillis used a nice cut-back move to find an opening in the line and he bolted for a 64-yard touchdown run. The point-after sealed the 26-13 victory for Kennett.
The Blue Demons, now 3-0, will host Bayard Rustin on Friday night at 7 p.m.
The 2-1 Hornets will travel to West Chester East (0-3) for a 7 p.m. game on Friday night.