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High School Football:
Confident Crusaders Capture SJ Group III Title

Saturday, December 3, 2005

By Clark Washington
SJSports Special Correspondent

It was evident from the opening ceremonies up until the final minutes remaining in the game. The Crusaders from Delsea were on a mission of capturing the South Jersey Group III title and win their 12th game in a row. The mission involved a very calm Delsea football team with one thing on their mind, and that was to remain extremely focused on their quest. Even with a three touchdown lead, the only indication that Delsea was winning was the capacity home crowd providing the celebrations. But with time ticking down to the final moments, the Gatorade bath attempt would begin. The Crusaders would only give up a last second touchdown by Lacey Township and go on to defeat the Lions 21-6 to complete their undefeated season.

It was called "Delsea football" by many after the game. Strong defense and an offense that relies heavily on those who protect the quarterback and provide openings for the runningbacks to slip through is what won this game for the Crusaders. The offensive line battled the Lions defense for an entire first quarter but just couldn't show their success on the scoreboard. Delsea's defense completely dominated the game allowing the offense to get on track. With 10:15 remaining in the half, Melton Diggs took the handoff from quarterback George Dawson and found a lane between the left tackle and left guard and scored from 55 yards out to cap a 6 play, 80 yard scoring drive. Even with a 7-0 lead, the Crusaders weren't celebrating their lead knowing that there was still more work to be done.

During the start of the third quarter, Lacey Township could not get their running game going with Delsea's defense plugging up all of the lanes. During the game, it was announced that linebacker Andrew Yezzi had set a new school record in tackles. Delsea would continue their dominance on defense allowing the offense to finally break this game open. Dawson would finish off a 45-yard scoring drive when he crossed the goal line from 9 yards out and Delsea lead 14-0. That lead increased to 21-0 when a 6 play, 59 yard scoring drive ended recorded his second touchdown of the game this time on a one yard run. Lacey would avoid the shutout by scoring on a Matt Freeney 14 yard run with seconds remaining in this championship game.

Photos by Art Redd

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