FELTON Austin Aguilar had seen defensive players pick up a blocked field goal or punt and run with it. So he thought he could do it, too.
The Lake Forest kicker picked up his own blocked field goal with no time remaining Saturday and ran it into the end zone. The officials hesitated for a couple of seconds – trying to make sense of a confusing situation – then signaled a touchdown.
As Delmar players sprinted the other way in celebration, the stunning turn of events gave Lake Forest a wild, 19-14 victory that will long be remembered.
“No one was paying attention to me, and I ran it in,” Aguilar said. “I saw [the officials’] hands go up, and it was just the best feeling ever.”
The Spartans (3-2, 2-0 Henlopen South), ranked second in Division II, were trailing 14-13 when Aguilar lined up to attempt an 18-yard field goal with 1 second remaining. It was just PAT distance, from the right hashmark, but the kick never had a chance.
The Delmar defense snuffed it almost right off of Aguilar’s foot. The ball remained behind the line of scrimmage, so it was still a live play. The jubilant Wildcats were running toward midfield when the alert kicker retrieved the ball and scored.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Lake Forest coach Freddie Johnson said. “… I saw the ball on the ground, and I started yelling pick it up, pick it up! Then I didn’t see the ball anymore, so I thought the referee picked it up. But then our kid had it in the end zone, and I saw the official rule touchdown.”
Delmar (0-5, 0-2) went from celebrating its first win of the season to losing in one of the worst ways imaginable.
“Our coaches said they heard a whistle. I don’t know,” Wildcats coach David Hearn said. “Until the whistle blows, we could have picked it up and run with it. Any time you block a field goal, it’s live until it’s dead. They said it was not dead.”
It was actually the second blocked kick of the game. The Spartans blocked the PAT after DeJour Brown capped Delmar’s first drive with a 15-yard touchdown run for a 6-0 lead. Lake Forest answered with a 19-yard scoring run by Ben Moore, and Aguilar’s extra point gave the Spartans a 7-6 lead at the half.
The Wildcats regained the lead on a 25-yard run by Isaac Austin with 1:28 left in the third quarter, and quarterback James Adkins added a two-point run to make it 14-7.
The Spartans responded on their next drive, as Trevon Milton scored on a 5-yard burst with 9:34 remaining in the game. Delmar was offside on the PAT, prompting Lake Forest to go for two. But the Wildcats stopped Milton short of the line to hang on to a 14-13 lead.
Then Delmar took more than six minutes off the clock with an 11-play drive. On fourth-and-2 from the Spartans 38, the teams combined for three timeouts before the Wildcats sent Austin up the middle. The chains came out, and two officials got on their knees to take an extended look before ruling that Delmar had come up an inch short.
That gave Lake Forest the ball with 3:15 left, and the Spartans took 13 hurry-up plays to move into position for the crazy final play.
The frustrated Wildcats have lost 27-25 at St. Mary’s (Md.), lost to Caravel 32-24 in double overtime and dropped a back-and-forth, 38-28 decision to Laurel. But this one hurt most of all.
“We’re snakebit,” Hearn said. “But you’ve got to make a fourth-down play. Then you don’t have to worry about [the last play]. … You’ve got some odd things that can happen at the end of a game. You’ve got to make it so that isn’t allowed to happen. Pick up a first down, it’s over.”
Meanwhile, the Spartans are winning the close ones. They edged St. Mark’s 14-13 in week two, and outlasted Woodbridge 9-7 last week. Last year – during a 10-0 regular season – Lake Forest topped Sussex Central 23-20 on a late field goal and beat Brandywine 13-12 by stripping the ball on a two-point conversion attempt in overtime.
“Like I tell the kids, you only have to have one more point than the other team,” Johnson said. “So we’ll take it. Because I’m sure if the situation was reversed, [Delmar] would take it and they would be happy about it.
“We’re finding ways to win,” the coach added. “We’re playing close … I don’t know. I guess things are just falling our way.”
Contact Brad Myers at [email protected] Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ