HARROD – Friday night’s Northwest Conference football matchup between Allen East and Delphos Jefferson resembled a heavyweight boxing match.
It seemed like every time a team would make a play, the other team responded with a big punch of its own.
However, in the end, it was Delphos Jefferson delivering the finishing blows as Allen East finally succumbed to Delphos Jefferson, 32-22 at Bill Goodwin Field.
Delphos Jefferson running back Hunter Binkley was a workhorse, carrying the football 40 times for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Teammate Brenen Auer carried the ball 29 times for 103 yards and a TD.
With the win, Delphos Jefferson improves to 3-1, 1-0 NWC. Allen East slips to 3-1, 0-1 NWC.
“It was everything you thought it would be,” Delphos Jefferson coach Chris Sommers said. “Going into the week, it was easy to see what kind of team they had. They are extremely good, and they pushed us the whole game. They made some big plays, and we were trying to hang on there in the end.”
After Delphos Jefferson scored on its first two drives of the game, on TD runs of 13 and 4 yards by Binkley, Allen East battled back to claim a 15-12 lead with 9:23 left to play in the half. Allen East quarterback Spencer Miller threw TD passes to Chris Kleman (29 yards) and Caleb Smelcer (61 yards) to give the Mustangs the lead.
Miller went on to pass for 253 yards and three TDs on 13-of-23 passing. Miller was also intercepted twice on the night. For the game, Smelcer hauled in seven passes for 151 yards.
On the ground, Kyle Nickles led the Mustangs with 68 yards rushing on four carries.
However, Delphos Jefferson reclaimed the lead by halftime, 18-15, on an 84-yard punt return by Drew Reiss with 20 seconds left in the half.
Then, on its first drive of the third quarter, Allen East reclaimed the lead, on a four-play, 74-yard drive, capped off by a 46-yard scoring strike to Kain Foster. With the point-after, Allen East led 22-18.
However, Delphos Jefferson responded once more.
In the waning moments of the third quarter, Auer ran it in from 3 yards out, capping off a 17-play, 83-yard drive. With the two-point conversion, the Wildcats led 26-22.
Delphos Jefferson finally closed the door on an Allen East comeback, as Binkley broke loose for a 49-yard TD run, to round out the scoring.
“Our defense stepped up and made some stops,” Sommers said. “Offensively, we got a couple more scores and we were able to get some separation there. I’m so proud of them. That was a hard game. There were some different points in that game where it could have went either way. They’re a great team.”
For the game, Delphos Jefferson rolled up 481 total yards (379 rushing, 102 passing). Allen East amassed 342 total yards (89 rushing, 253 passing).
With the victory over Allen East, Delphos Jefferson has now won 11 consecutive NWC games.
“I’m really proud at the way we came out and played tonight,” Allen East coach Mike Abbey said. “That’s as many points that we’ve put up on them in four or five years combined. I’ve got to be a little bit better when we get down inside the red zone. But, they’re a solid team. Their front four, by far, is the best we will see all year. They caused a lot of havoc. We couldn’t run the ball inside at all.”
Added Sommers, “They (Allen East) pushed us every play. They pushed us every series. We’re proud of our team to come out of here with a win.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0468.