By Mike McClure

The Delmar varsity football team returned to the field last Thursday night after a bye and an emotional week following the death of junior Carter Figgs in a car accident. The Wildcats held off Lake Forest, 30-27, in front of a large crowd of supporters in Harrington.

“They believed in themselves. They listened to what we said. The parents around them helped ease them along,” said Delmar head coach David Hearn. “This was just such a tragedy for so many people.”

Delmar’s Brandon Turner takes on a pair of Lake Forest defenders on a run up the middle during last week’s 30-27 road win. Photo by Mike McClure

The Delmar captains walked the jerseys of Figgs and senior John Carter Powell, who was seriously injured in the crash, out to midfield during the pre-game ceremony. Signs and tributes to the pair were throughout the stadium as the Lake Forest community joined the road crowd in support of the families and the players.

Lake Forest got the ball first and moved it to the Delmar 45 before being forced to punt. The Wildcats pushed the ball downfield and started at their own 16 yard-line. Isaiah Holbrook had a 14-yard run, Khalid Schoolfield ran for 11 yards, and Brandon Turner capped the drive with a 46-yard touchdown run. The score remained 6-0 following a bad snap on the PAT (6:25).

On third and eight from the 35, Lake Forest quarterback Jackson Parson ran the ball 27 yards to the Delmar 38 for a first down. Demarion Russ picked up six yards on third and six from the Wildcat 23 and Andrew White ran the ball in from the 17. The extra point by Aidan Garey gave Lake Forest a 7-6 lead with 1:26 left in the first quarter.

Schoolfield opened Delmar’s next possession with a nine-yard run. The Wildcats pushed the ball past midfield but were stopped on a quarterback keeper on fourth and two from the Spartan 45.

Parson picked up nine yards on a quarterback keeper and completed a 21-yard pass to Ne’Von Pierce. Parson added a 13-yard run as Lake Forest moved the ball inside the Wildcats’ five yard-line. Delmar’s defense stopped Parson short of the end zone on fourth and goal from the one to turn the ball over on downs.

Delmar’s offense started with the ball on its own 16 following a dead ball foul on the Spartans. Quarterback Nathan VanZandt scrambled and ran 45 yards to the Lake Forest 47 on second and long. VanZandt later passed to Holbrook for a 36-yard touchdown. Turner ran in the two-point conversion to give Delmar a 14-7 lead with 35.3 seconds left in the first half.

The Wildcats opened the second half with the ball on their own 14. On second and 12 from the 39, Turner took a pitch from VanZandt and ran 18 yards for a first down. Holbrook had runs of 14 and 12 yards to set up first and goal from the one and ran it in for a touchdown on second down. Turner took a pitch and ran it in for a two-point conversion and a 22-7 score with 3:13 remaining in the third quarter.

Lake Forest answered with a scoring drive of its own, starting at their own 44 following a kick return by Pierce. Parson ran for nine yards on a keeper on fourth and five from 49 before completing a 30-yard pass to Darius Miller for a touchdown (1:28). The Spartans fumbled on the two-point attempt and Delmar led, 22-13.

The Wildcats wasted no time scoring again as Holbrook ran 66 yards for a touchdown on the first play. Dason Baine ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 30-13 with 1:03 left in the quarter.

Delmar’s defense forced the Spartans to punt on their next possession as the Wildcats’ Jason Smullen made a tackle for a one-yard loss on first down followed by a pair of incomplete passes.

Delmar faced third and seven from its own 31 when Lake Forest’s Nikhai Cooper recoded a Wildcat fumble and ran it back for a touchdown. The score remained 30-19 (9:30) following an incomplete pass on the two-point attempt.

Delmar took a couple minutes off the clock before being forced to punt the ball. Lake Forest put together a drive, starting at its own 22. Russ had a 23-yard run and Parson completed a 10-yard pass to Miller. Parson completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Miller on fourth and 14 and Parson ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 30-27 with 1:28 left in the game.

Delmar’s Carter Mason recovered the onside kick and Holbrook had two carries for 11 yards before the Wildcats were able to take a knee and run out the clock for the three point win.

“They’re a good football team,” Hearn said. “They (players) gave us a good week (three days) of practice. It’s still going to be a rough week next week.”