Salesianum football scores late, escapes with win over tough Cape Henlopen: Photo gallery

Andrew Ransome had 70 rushing yards and two touchdowns for Salesianum in a 28-21 win over Cape Henlopen. (Dialog Photo/Jason Winchell)

WILMINGTON – The Salesianum football team struggled to get their attack moving for much of the night of September 1, but when the Sals were in their direst need they found they could count on a porter of experienced ball.

Cape Henlopen’s TJ Messick scored on a 13-yard run with 4:37 left, giving the Vikings a 21-20 lead in front of a stunned crowd at Abessinio Stadium. But the Sals didn’t panic, rushing for 56 yards in just over three minutes to escape with the win.

Andrew Ransome capped the final drive with a 2-yard right tackle with 1:17 to go, and the Salesianum defense ended Cape’s last-minute attempts to salvage those points to preserve a 28-21 victory in the the opening of the season. for both teams.

The Vikings were trailing 20-14 when they won the ball after a Sals punt with about eight minutes left. They turned to junior Maurki James, who dazzled all night. He ran on the first play of practice for 24 yards, bringing the ball to Salesianum 49. James then rode up the middle for another 13, followed by a pair of 2-yard runs.

Facing a third-and-six of 32 from the Sals, quarterback Joseph Coveleski hit Messick with a screen that went 17 yards. After James picked up two more, Messick slumped to give the Vikings their second one-point lead of the night.

Vincent DelliCompagni gave the Sals good field position by returning the kickoff to his team’s 44-yard line with 4:30 on the clock. At third and third, freshman quarterback Ryan Stoehr found Hunter Balint at Cape 44. From there, it was all Ransome. He picked up 25 yards on his first rush, six on his second to give the Sals a second and 4 on the 13 cap. Ransome came one yard from the end zone, and after a loss of one on the first and the goal, he walked in standing as the Sallies devotees celebrated.

“We were just in a tough spot,” Ransome said. “They called my number and I delivered for the team this time. It’s a team full of heart. The fact that they score late didn’t really affect us and didn’t affect our hearts.

Stoehr, considered the first freshman to start at quarterback for the Sals since current assistant coach Gene Delle Donne in the early 2000s, said he didn’t feel any added pressure in those final minutes. .

“We have faith in our guys and we have faith that we can make the plays. I had faith in my teammates that we could win this game,” he said.

Stoehr said he had dreamed of being Sallies’ starting quarterback since sixth grade and was embraced by his teammates.

“I’ve been hugged since the day I got here, and it was awesome,” he said.

The teams played a scoreless first quarter, with a Salesianum drive ending with a Messick interception on the goal line. Salesianum thought they had scored on a punt return in the opening seconds of the second quarter, but that was canceled out by a penalty. They started that practice instead at the Vikings’ 44, and it ended with a 33-yard field goal from James Collins with 8:35 left in the half.

Cape’s better first-half drive took them to Salesianum 27, but Sals defensive end Nate Ray ended that threat by forcing a fumble that was recovered by Aidan Lucey. Ransome carried 33 yards on first until the Vikings’ 27, but the drive stopped at 21. Collins added three more runs, this time from 38 yards, to double the lead to 6-0 with 95 seconds left. remaining in the first half. .

Any thoughts that Cape would sit on the ball and walk into the locker room with a six-point deficit were quickly dispelled. Coveleski capped a quick 81-yard drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass to the far right corner of the end zone with just 22 seconds on the clock. The point after put the Vikings on top.

But the lead only lasted 12 seconds. Nicholas Strusowski kicked off at Salesianum 10 and raced down the right side of the field for a touchdown, restoring Sals’ six-point advantage with 10 ticks remaining.

Ransome finished with 70 rushing yards and two scores. Balint caught five balls for 30 yards, and he had another for a two-point conversion. The Sals (1-0) will face a tough task next week when they visit Sussex Central on September 9 at 7 p.m.

James finished with 18 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown, and he caught three passes for 122 yards. Cape (0-1) hosts Class 2A powerhouse Woodbridge in their home opener, scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m.

All photos by Jason Winchell.

Jack C. Nugent