DAGSBORO Entering the huddle with 6:38 left in the game, Indian River needed 80 yards and a touchdown to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“We knew that we had to win the game if we were going to go to the playoffs,” running back George Martin said. “That’s all we’re focused on.”
The combination of Gerald Foreman and Martin came up with some timely runs to keep the drive alive as the Indians marched down the field.
Aided by two personal foul penalties by Delmar, IR got into the red zone with under a minute remaining.
After senior quarterback Jake Hudson found fullback Gunner Moldrik in the flat, Martin punched in a toss from 4 yards out with 37 seconds left, giving Indian River (4-4) the 21-20 comeback against the Wildcats on Friday night.
The Delmar (1-7) defense had done all it needed in the second half before the final drive. The Wildcats had allowed four rushes and a few passes in the second half as the Delmar offense controlled the ball.
But just as it has happened all season, Delmar fell apart.
“The whole group played hard, and it’s a shame to have 30 yards of penalties on drive to finish the game off,” Wildcats head coach David Hearn said. “That’s difficult to swallow.”
After Martin rushed for 10 yards on fourth down, bringing the ball out to midfield, Delmar roughed Hudson with a late hit.
Three plays later, another flag was thrown when a Wildcat flew into the pile, leveling an IR player.
That penalty moved Indian River all the way to the 11-yard line with 1:35 left in the game.
Hudson pass put IR at the 4, and then Martin won the game for the second time at home this season. The junior running back had also rushed for the game-winning touchdown against Milford on Oct. 16 — another home comeback win for the Indians.
It wasn’t just the personal fouls that hampered the Wildcats. A holding call early in the fourth quarter slowed a driving Delmar team looking to put the game out of reach.
Instead, they missed a 44-yard field goal attempt, setting up IR’s game-winning drive.
Delmar kicker Andrew Blewitt had also missed an extra point after Delmar’s third-quarter score, a play-action pass from quarterback James Adkins to tight end Frederick Frey.
It’s been that type of season for the Wildcats.
“Since the first game, it’s been a series of overtime, close games, lose on a field-goal block and then this miss,” Hearn said. “You have to find a way to win. You have to learn to win, and we don’t.”
The loss wiped away top-notch games from senior running back Kavon Trader and sophomore fullback Brooks Parker.
The duo combined for two touchdowns and 204 rushing yards. Both touchdown runs were 40 yarders in the first and second quarter.
Trader struck first five minutes into the first quarter, but was stuff on fourth down at the goal line on Delmar’s second drive.
IR was able to hang around and get back into the game.
The Indian River running back duo was enough.
Martin had two touchdowns and 81 rushing yards, and Foreman broke a 71-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to tie the game 14-14 at halftime. He finished with 123 rushing yards.
With Woodbridge (5-3) beating Milford, Indian River desperately needed a win to stay alive in the playoff race.
Every game is the playoffs for Indian River, who travel to Lake Forest (6-2) next week.
“We’ve got to focus on Lake this week,” IR head coach Phillip Townsend said. “We can’t focus on the playoffs yet. We have two games left in the regular season, and we have to prepare for them one by one.”