The Cavaliers opened a 20-8 lead in the second half, but Smyrna's Will Knight was the difference-maker in the game, running for three touchdowns and throwing for another at Delaware Stadium at the University of Delaware.
After an incredibly successful 2017 season, the Middletown Cavaliers fell short of claiming the Division I State Championship, falling to defending state champion Smyrna, 30-27.
Smyrna overcame a 20-8 deficit in the second half to earn their three-peat, led by standout Will Knight who finished the game with three rushing scores and a touchdown pass.
Smyrna took an early 8-0 lead, cashing in on a Middletown fumble on the game’s opening kick-off, when Knight scored on a 2-yard run while also adding the two-point conversion.
The Eagles lead remained at 8-0 until late in the first half when Middletown orchestrated a drive deep into Smyrna territory, capped off by a six-yard connection from quarterback Drew Fry to Nicholas Johnston cutting the Eagles’ lead to 8-7 at halftime.
On the opening kickoff to start the second half, it was Middletown’s turn to capitalize on a special teams turnover when they recovered a Larsen Wilson fumble giving the Cavaliers the ball in Smyrna territory. A few plays later, Fry would find Esaias Guthrie on a 35-yard touchdown pass to give the Cavaliers a 13-8 lead with just over 10 minutes to go in the third quarter.
With just under five minutes left in the third, Middletown would force another big turnover.
Smyrna quarterback Isaiah Wilson fumbled a fake handoff which fell right into the arms of Johnathan Smith who took it to the house 38-yards for a touchdown increasing the Middletown lead to 20-8.
The Eagles would answer just seconds later on their next possession - Knight took a direct snap and rolled out throwing a 41-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Whaley, pulling Smyrna to within six points at 20-14.
In the fourth quarter, still trailing 20-14, Smyrna put together an impressive offensive drive finished off by a nine-yard rushing score by Knight, followed by yet another two-point conversion for Knight to give Smyrna a 22-20 lead with about six minutes remaining.
Later in the quarter Middletown was in Smyrna territory on a drive that started from their own 11-yard line when Fry was stopped short on a fourth and four to go, giving the ball back to the Eagles with under three minutes to go.
On the very next play from scrimmage, Knight busted out one of his signature long runs, breaking loose for a 69-yard score down the sidelines to give Smyrna a 10-point lead, 30-20.
The Cavaliers wouldn’t go away, however, as Fry would lead them down the field before finding Kenneth Edelin on an 18-yard touchdown pass to cut the Smyrna lead to 30-27.
Middletown’s on-sides kick try would be recovered by Smyrna and three kneel-downs by Knight would seal the Eagles’ third-straight Division I state title.
The Cavaliers fought hard in what was a classic of a football game.
Fry continued to show why he’s quickly becoming one of the state’s best signal callers, finishing the game 23-of-34 for 218 yards through the air and three touchdown passes.
Plays were made on defense and special teams, as both sides came away with turnovers Saturday afternoon.
Like any team, the Cavaliers will part ways with a group of seniors who’ve been crucial to their success, especially this season. However, Fry will lead an impressive returning group next season which includes players on both ends of the ball.
Middletown came up just short of putting together a perfect undefeated season, but they leave the 2017 campaign with plenty of positives to look back on.
They finished the regular season 10-0 overall, winning the Flight A Division. They scored 35 or more points in six of those wins, surpassing 50 points twice.
During the regular season, Middletown’s defense kept all but one opponent to 14 points or less, shutting out three of them.
In the playoffs, as the No. 1 overall seed, they faced a tough No. 5 William Penn squad, fighting their way to a 21-13 victory to advance to the state title game.