By Mike McClure

Despite allowing a first quarter touchdown, the Laurel varsity football team earned a 27-7 home win over rival Delmar in its homecoming game last Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs’ defense and running game helped the team bounce back from a road loss to Milford to even its record to 4-4 while the Wildcats fell to 5-3 after winning their previous three games.

“We had a lot of reasons to be excited for today. We’ve been in a little bit of a rut,” said Laurel head coach Joey Jones. “We knew Delmar was going to bring it and our guys battled all day.”

Laurel’s Xavier Limehouse runs 21 yards for a first down. Limehouse scored three touchdowns in his team’s 27-7 home win over Delmar on Saturday. Photo by Mike McClure

The Wildcats opened the scoring when quarterback Nathan VanZandt completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Johnson. VanZandt booted the extra point to make the score 7-0.

Laurel drove into Wildcat territory late in the first quarter. Laurel’s Xavier Limehouse had a 21-yard run on third and 13 from the Delmar 36. Limehouse capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run and Bradley Lopez Vasquez kicked the extra point to tie the score (10:11).

The Bulldogs’ defense forced Delmar to punt following the next possession. Laurel’s offense started with the ball on the Wildcat 48. Limehouse carried the ball three times for 46 yards before running it in for a touchdown from a yard out. Lopez Vasquez added the PAT for the 14-7 Bulldogs’ lead with 6:37 remaining in the half.

Laurel got the ball back at the 49 following another Delmar punt. Elijah Niblett took a pitch from quarterback Koby Shockley and ran nine yards for a first down on third and eight from the Delmar 49. Limehouse added an 11-yard run on third and three from the 33. Patrick Belle picked up 12 yards on third and two from the 14 before being stopped for no gain on first and goal from the two.

The Bulldogs called a timeout, but the Wildcats stopped Niblett short of the end zone with no time left in the first half.

Delmar recovered its own fumble on the first play of the second half before the ball was snapped over the head of VanZandt on a punt attempt on fourth and 10. VanZandt fell on the ball, but Laurel took over on the Delmar eight. Limehouse ran the ball in on third and goal from the seven and Vasquez Lopez made the extra point for a 21-7 Laurel lead (8:12).

The two teams exchanged punts and Belle recovered a Delmar fumble. Laurel’s offense started with the ball at midfield following another Delmar out. Shockley had runs of 32 and eight yards before scoring on a six-yard touchdown run. Vasquez Lopez was unable to get the kick off and the score remained 27-7 with 4:38 to go in the game.

Belle recorded a sack on second and 15 before Delmar’s Brandon Turner answered with a 38-yard run on third and 24. Khalid Schoolfield hauled in a touchdown pass but it was called back on a block in the back penalty on the Wildcats. Laurel took over following a pair of incomplete passes and took a knee to seal the win.

“Our defense has been tough all year,” Jones said. “They (offensive line) came to play, they were tough.”

Laurel ends the regular season at home against Lake Forest this Friday night before visiting Sussex Tech. Delmar hosts Milford on Friday before visiting Woodbridge. “We knew from the jump that this district was going to be really tough,” said Jones.