By Lynn Schofer

The Laurel Bulldogs defeated Seaford, 28-18, in the annual Lions Club Trophy game 28-18 on Friday night in Laurel. The annual football game, which dates back to 1936, is the longest running rivalry game in the state of Delaware. The trophy is symbolic of the two communities with the base made of DuPont polymer, representing the historic nylon industry of DuPont in Seaford, and the football is carved from a block of walnut from a tree which originally stood in Laurel, representing the woodworking industry that once was prominent in the town. 

This year is the 20th consecutive win for Laurel, beginning in 2004. Laurel head coach Joey Jones said, “They did not play their best last week and it has been motivationally hanging on them all week.” 

The Laurel football team defeated Seaford for the 20th year in a row in the annual Lion Trophy football game. Photo by Lynn Schofer

Prior to the start of the game, the Bulldog community showed its support of the Delmar School District and football team following the tragic death of Carter Figgs. Followed by a moment of silence, the Laurel football team donated all profits from the 50/50 raffle to the Figgs family.

Laurel took advantage of crucial Seaford turnovers for an early 21-0 first quarter lead. In the first quarter, Laurel carried for four consecutive first down plays, led by senior Patrick Belle who pushed through the final four yards for the opening carry touchdown. Senior kicker Bradley Lopez Vasquez added the point for the 7-0 lead. 

Seaford fumbled the ball on the first snap at the 34 yard-line but recovered for a loss of yards. Quarterback Vince Evans’ pass was intercepted by Isaiah Miller who returned it to the 35 yard-line. The Bulldogs were set back on a holding call and were forced to punt. 

The Blue Jay offense was not in sync and had to punt the ball away where Laurel’s Xavier Limehouse took possession at midfield and returned it 51-yards for a touchdown and the PAT made the score 14-0. Seaford returned the kick-off but moved back on a penalty. A sack on Evans and then a fumble on the next play resulted in a Laurel recovery at the 10 yard-line. Laurel’s Koby Shockley kept the ball for the running touchdown in the early seconds of the second quarter. 

“We kind of let some things slip away and made some mistakes but that early start was a refreshing reminder of who these kids are and their ability as a team,” said Jones. “Koby Shockley is right on pace and progressing as a quarterback. He is a smart and tough kid and someone you can trust with your offense.”

Seaford’s Jakob Keglovits carried and pushed through the Laurel tacklers and Evans connected with James McNeill to place the ball at the four yard-line for Seaford. Laurel held Seaford and on a fourth down pass with 10 seconds to play in the half, Justin Jackson did not adjust to the pass to the end zone and Laurel intercepted the ball. Laurel led 21-0 at half-time.

The Blue Jays received the kick-off to start the third quarter and after giving up possession with a punt, the Blue Jays’ Roman Maddox recovered a fumble at the 34 yard-line. One play later Evans connected with Tre’von Paulson in the end-zone for a touchdown. Seaford did not convert the extra point and the score was 21-6.

On the Bulldog possession, Jackson sacked Shockley to force a punt. Seaford was pinned inside the 10 yard-line on the punt and the Bulldog defense held the line and forced a punt, beginning the fourth quarter at midfield. 

Belle moved the ball to the nine yard-line. Shockley made the pass to the end-zone into the hands of Kei’shaun Copes when Paulson ripped it from his grip and ran 57 yards for Seaford. The excitement was short lived when Jackson fumbled the ball and Belle nabbed it midair and ran 70 yards for a Laurel touchdown and a 28-6 score. 

The Blue Jays fought back as Alex Jean scored a touchdown on a fourth down with just under six minutes to play in the game. 

Seaford followed up with a blocked punt on the next Bulldog possession and Jackson ran it back to the 10 yard-line. Evans held the ball on a keeper play and Keglovits collected a touchdown from the one yard-line for the 28-18 score.  

Laurel held possession for the win that moves them to 3-3 overall this season and Seaford fell to 3-3 with the loss.

“We need to get more efficient but these are good kids that like to share the ball. We graduated 16 seniors but we have a fair number of guys who have seen a lot of football. They are a fun and enjoyable group and I told the guys they were not born yet the last time Seaford won this trophy. This is such a cool rivalry and something that helps these teams compete,” Jones said.