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Trailing Eagles 24-14 at halftime, Decatur squad fights back to win 40-24

LISA CAPITELLI ¦ Assistant Editor

Stephen Decatur senior Tim VanVonno (3) hugs teammate Chase Sams after the junior recovered a Snow Hill fumble in the end zone during last Friday’s game in Berlin. Decatur won 40-24. 
OCEAN CITY TODAY/LISA CAPITELLI Stephen Decatur senior Tim VanVonno (3) hugs teammate Chase Sams after the junior recovered a Snow Hill fumble in the end zone during last Friday’s game in Berlin. Decatur won 40-24.OCEAN CITY TODAY/LISA CAPITELLI(Nov. 9, 2012) The final game of the Stephen Decatur football team’s regular season is traditionally a match-up against Worcester County rivals, the Snow Hill Eagles. This year, Decatur hosted the competition, and after trailing 24-14 at the halftime break last Friday, the home team fought back to earn a 40-24 victory.

It was the second half that made the difference in the game, as the Seahawks scored 26 points while holding their opponents scoreless.

“It was a tale of two games. In the first half they dominated and kicked our butts and in the second half, we kicked their butts a little worse,” Decatur Coach Bob Knox said after his team’s Senior Night win. “We were the nail in the first half and we were the hammer in the second half. They never quit. We took control of the line of scrimmage in the second half.”

Seniors Richard Armstrong and Troy Taylor tallied touchdowns and senior Mike Shumate’s kicks were good to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter. Decatur junior P.J. Copes scored and junior Fletcher Case’s kick was successful to cut Snow Hill’s advantage in half in the final seconds of the quarter.

The Eagles pulled ahead 21-7 on a Taylor touchdown and a senior Hamza Choudrey kick midway into the second quarter, but Copes answered about three minutes later. Case made the extra point.

Just before the break, Choudrey hit a field goal to increase Snow Hill’s advantage to 10 points.

Although Knox wouldn’t reveal exactly what the coaching staff talked about with their players during halftime, he summed up the speech by saying they challenged the Seahawks to play to their potential.

The words said obviously worked.

Decatur senior James Mapp returned the kickoff at the start of the third quarter 80 yards to bring his team to within four points (24-20). That play, Knox said, changed the momentum of the game in the Seahawks’ favor.

With about three minutes left in the third quarter, Snow Hill fumbled the ball in the end zone and it was recovered by junior Chase Sams. The recovery gave Decatur its first lead of the night (26-24).

Forty-five seconds into the fourth quarter, junior Andrew Borradaile ran the ball 48 yards to score and Copes was successful on the two-point conversion to put Decatur on top 34-24.

Copes scored again at the 4:40 mark, boosting the Seahawks’ advantage to 40- 24.

Borradaile carried the ball 13 times, racking up 134 yards. Mapp earned 88 yards on 12 rushes and Copes tallied 141 yards on 15 carries.

Sams led the Decatur defense with 19 tackles. Junior Wyatt Brady and senior Ryan Kail each made eight tackles.

In all other high school sports, teams automatically qualify to compete in the playoffs, but in football, squads must perform well enough during the regular season in order to advance. The top four teams in the north, south, east and west regions of the 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A classifications advance to the state tournament. Decatur went 5-5 this season and finished in eighth place out of the 12 teams in the 3A East region.

“If we could have played hard for 48 minutes in all of our games we could have been a really good football team,” Knox said. “Hopefully, the kids learn that you’ve got to play from the beginning to the end and you’ve got to finish the task you started. You can’t just do it part way for a while and them turn it on.”

Knox said quite a few players, especially on the offensive line, will graduate in May. It will be a challenge for the Seahawks to rebuild, but Knox said he looks forward to that test next season.

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