Last year, Delmar defeated Indian River’s varsity football team 28-21 and went on to win the Southern Division championship. The Indians had held the title three consecutive years, dating back to 2003. Even after last year’s turn of events, Delmar knew that Indian River is a dangerous team and that this year’s game could hold the key to another division championship for either team.
And though there is still plenty of football yet to play, seeing how both teams are just midway through the regular season, Delmar’s 35-14 win over Indian River on Oct. 5 certainly gives them a leg up on the competition for the Southern Divisional crown.
“This game was huge because whoever wins, wins the South,” Wildcats fullback and middle linebacker Justin Thomas said. “Because for us, Indian River was the only team that could take that from us.”
Delmar jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead following a great defensive stand to hold the Indians’ potent offense to a three-and-out series on their initial drive. Delmar’s Kerry King took it from there and scored on a 51-yard touchdown run on only their second play from the line of scrimmage.
Indian River knotted it up at seven apiece on the first play of the second quarter with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Nick Kmetz to Robbie Disharoon.
Delmar answered the bell and capped a 10-play scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Matt Campbell to take a 14-7 lead.
Indian River halted a time-consuming drive by Delmar by recovering a Tevin Jackson fumble deep in Indian territory with less than a minute remaining. It looked as if Indian River had averted disaster and would go into the locker room down only seven points, but the coaching staff decided to try move the ball quickly down the field with their passing game and failed.
Delmar’s Fernando Batson picked off a wobbly Kmetz pass and returned down to the Indian River 13-yard line, which set up another Delmar score.
On the very next play, Campbell connected with Thomas on a middle screen, and he scampered through the Indians defense to give Delmar a 21-7 halftime lead.
Indian River committed five turnovers in the game, with most of them coming at inopportune times and, according to Indians head coach Jim Bunting, that just can’t happen in games of this magnitude.
“You can’t make that many mistakes and expect to win against a fair team, let alone a good team like Delmar,” he said.
Indian River out-gained Delmar’s offense 339 to 322 yards, primarily through the passing game (Kmetz completed 16 of 26 passes for 226 yards) but Indian River just couldn’t stop the Wildcats’ ball-control offense from sustaining long drives.
Bunting attributed their lack of success stopping the run to missed assignments along the defensive front that created gaping holes for the Wildcats to run through.
“We made so many mistakes on almost a regular basis,” Bunting said.
Delmar had 10 runs of 10 yards or more, with five of those coming on the opening drive of the second half.
Delmar’s Taylor Ballard punched in a 5-yard touchdown to cap an eight-play drive, and Campbell scored his second rushing touchdown from 6 yards out to cap a 13-play drive.
Indian River’s Jeremy Purnell scored the Indians’ second and final touchdown on a bruising 5-yard touchdown run after being met in the hole by a Delmar linebacker.
Indian River will host Milford tonight in what Bunting said he considers “a must-win game” if they have any hope of winning the division or, more importantly, a chance to make the state tournament.
“This is a must-win game if we want to make the tournament,” he said. “If we take another loss, then I think you’ll really have to start looking at the schedules.”