South Jersey Football:
Saturday, November 13, 1999
By Art Redd
Yes, there was a lot of football being played in the South Jersey area on Saturday at West Deptford. With the beginning of the area high school football playoffs, there would be a tendency to forget about the semi-pro football championship game being played. Those who attended the game got to watch area high school "graduates" play in an intense game that resembles the NFL. The West Deptford Broncos captured the 1999 Mason Dixon Football League Title with a 35-12 thrashing of the Central Virginia Storm.
What's impressive is the Broncos, in their first year of the league, accomplished several tasks. Coach Ben Landi and the rest of his staff put together a group of talented players from the South Jersey area and coached them to a 13-0 record. Without the experience of seeing these teams, they were able to compete on a higher level than all of their opponents. This game featured the first year offensive line that gave Marty Cross the time to throw three touchdowns during the game. The offensive line created holes for Jarvis Perry and Jyi Peterson to get through and show their talents in the open field. This game was dominated from both sides of the field and the Broncos never let the Storm feel like they had a chance to win this 1999 MDFL Championship game.
From the opening kickoff, the Broncos' defense stopped their opponents and forced them to punt the ball on four downs. That's when the running game took over. Starting from their own 17-yard line, West Deptford moved the ball straight down the field to the Storms' 5-yard line. The eleven-play drive that took over seven minutes off the clock ended with the 22-yard field goal attempted being blocked. But this penetration deep into the Central Virginia territory allowed the Broncos' defense to put the pressure again on their opponent. On a second and ten from Virginia's 24-yard line, it was Mike Tulane's fumble recovery at the 9-yard line that gave the Broncos another scoring chance. The Broncos wasted a good opportunity and turned the ball over on downs.
The Broncos came back on their next possession to put together a 7-play, 77-yard drive that consumed five minutes and fifteen seconds off of the clock. Perry and Peterson's running got the Broncos to the Storm's 30-yard line. With the defense playing for the run, Cross hit Will Spearman with a quick 7-yard pass. The next play, Cross found George Heller in the right corner of the endzone for the touchdown and the Broncos led 7-0 after Jeff O'Brick extra point attempt was good. On their next possession, the Storm's Brian Farmer picked up 20-yards to their 46-yard line. Two plays later, a pass interference call put Central Virginia with a first and goal from the Broncos 9-yard line. After two penalties push them back, Sly Yelder didn't let that get in his way to throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Melton. Greg Willis blocked the point after attempt and the Broncos lead was only by one point.
Marty Cross engineered the 2-minute offense to score again. After connecting with John Haltiwanger Jr. with a 23-yard pass to the 33-yard line, Cross threw his second consecutive pass to Keith Hall for a touchdown with 15 seconds remaining in the half. The Broncos lined up for the extra point attempt, but when the ball was snapped, holder Tom Fish raised up and threw a pass to Perry for the two point conversion. The teams went into the half with West Deptford leading 15-6.
Again, the Broncos showed why they were so successful this season. With the lead, they chewed up just about 8-minutes off the clock on their opening drive of the second half. The thirteen-play drive ended with a tough one yard run on third down by James Davis which gave the Broncos a 22-6 lead. West Deptford wasn't done yet. On the ensuing kickoff, the Broncos' special teams forced a fumble that Rodney Larmore snatched up and ran in for an 18-yard touchdown. Just like that, West Deptford was putting the game out of reach and was up 28-6.
All night, the Broncos' secondary was keeping Yelder from finding any receivers open for the pass. This forced Yelder to start running the ball late in the third quarter. Going for it on a forth and one from the Broncos' 41-yard line, big Brian Hill recovered a fumble to end the drive. With their next possession, Perry's tough run to the 35-yard line ended the quarter and started the final quarter on the next play with a score. Cross founded Hall across the middle for about a ten-yard reception. But his "RAC" yards were good for a 35-yard touchdown. Now up 35-6, the defense tended to relax a bit knowing that the championship title was going to be in their hands. Yelder scored a one-yard keeper with 9:29 remaining in the game.
The defensive line of West Deptford was winning every battle they encountered and not allowing Central Virginia to get in rhythm. Marty Cross finished 10 for 15 and 155 yards passing with 3 TDs and one interception. Jarvis Perry rushed for 122 yards on 11 carries and Jyi Peterson had 80 yards on 16 carries.
The Broncos would like to thank everyone for your support during their 1999 Mason Dixon Football League Championship season.
Photos by Art Redd
©1999 South Jersey Sports Online