The St. Elizabeth's Vikings, one of the state's top Division II teams, rallied from two early deficits to defeat Division I opponent Appoquinimink High School 24-21 in a non-conference game Friday night on the Jaguars' home field.
"We'll take the victory," said Viking coach Joe Hemphill. "Anytime you can beat a good Division I team on their own field, it's a great feeling to come away with a win."
Senior Andre Patton scored all three touchdowns for the Vikings, who raised their record to 3-2 at the mid-point of the 2012 season. Patton caught two touchdown passes from fellow senior Christian Gwynn and electrified the crowd with a superb 96-yard kickoff return right after the Jaguars had taken a 14-10 lead.
"On the kickoff, we ran our wedge play. I just read my blocking correctly, and was able to make it to the end zone," said Patton. "It's been an exciting season so far, and it's like a good family on this team."
The Jaguars scored on their second possession of the first period on a terrific 51-yard run down the sideline by sophomore Jeriah Hercules at 7:04. An extra point by Andrew Jones made the score 7-0. The drive covered 83 yards in five plays, all of which were on the ground.
The Vikings came storming back, however, scoring on a six-play, 56-yard drive of their own. The drive culminated with a 19-yard pass from Gwynn to Patton. Adam Szczerba's PAT knotted the score at 7-7 with 3:35 left in the quarter.
The Vikings grabbed their first lead of the game in the exciting second quarter when Szczerba slammed a 32-yard field goal straight through the uprights for a 10-7 lead at the 7:30 mark.
Then the fun began. After the Jags punted, from near mid-field, senior defensive back Malacchi Esdale picked-off an errant Gwynn pass and raced 29 yards for a touchdown. Jones' second PAT built the lead to 14-10, but on the ensuing kickoff, Patton grabbed the ball at the four, then powered his way through the Jaguars defense on his 96-yard return. Szczerba's PAT then increased the Vikings' lead to 17-14.
Both defenses held fast in a scoreless third period, as St. E's stopped the Jaguars on a fourth and short play down near the red zone at the 6:37 mark. The Vikings then iced the game early in the final stanza when Patton caught his second touchdown pass of the game on a 36-yard toss from Gwynn. It was his third score of the game. The Vikings came up with a huge defensive play with just under four minutes left in the game when linebacker Mike McClosky blocked a 29-yard field attempt by Jones.
Appoquinimink fought hard to the end, and scored with 1:03 remaining in the contest when Landon Archangelo scored on a 1-yard plunge. The Jags then tried to give themselves a chance for the victory, but an on-side kick was recovered by the Vikings.
Page 2 of 2 - "We made a few mistakes," said Appoquinimink coach Jeff Weiner, "but overall, I don't think we played a bad game. We have to rebound next week, and with a half of a season to go, we have still have to get better," he said.