NEWARK — For more than 58 minutes, nobody could figure out how to get the ball in the end zone.
But the Blue and Gold all-stars then made up for it with a pretty exciting final two minutes.
It all added up to an 8-6 win for the Blue in the 60th annual Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game played before a crowd of 7,124 at Delaware Stadium on Saturday night.
The Blue snapped the Gold’s four-game winning streak in the event by stopping a two-conversion try with just 22 seconds left in the contest. The Gold, which includes Henlopen Conference players, tried to have Sussex Tech’s Kani Kane bull his way into the end zone behind a couple other big backs.
But Kane was stopped short of the goal line as the Blue defenders came sprinting off the field with their arms raised in celebration.
“One on one, mano e mano, we were going to put our hoss’ against theirs,” Gold head coach Mike Tkach of Milford said about the two-point conversion try. “And they stepped up and stopped us. Hats off to them.”
With the chance of the first scoreless tie in the game’s history, the Blue finally tailled the night’s first points on a 38-yard hook-and-lateral play with just 1:18 remaining.
It was fourth-and-10 when quarterback Ray Jones of Hodgson threw a short pass to St. Mark’s Daulton Ziemba. Ziemba then tossed the ball to A.I. duPont’s Quadree Henderson going in the opposite direction.
Henderson, who was named the game’s MVP, then sprinted down the sideline for the touchdown. When Jones scored the two-point conversion, the Blue owned an 8-0 lead.
“We were actually trying to run it earlier in the game but the wide receiver got jammed up,” said Henderson, who is committed to Pittsburgh. “In the fourth quarter when the game was on the line, I went to Coach (Dave) Collins and said, ‘Try Boise again.’
“We wanted the magic trick to work. We executed it to its finest and we came out on top.”
But the Gold wasn’t done. With future Wesley College quarterback Ben Campbell under center, the Gold marched 64 yards on seven plays for its TD.
Campbell hit a wide-open Keyjuan Selby — a Delaware State recruit — on an 18-yard scoring pass with 22 seconds on the clock.
After a timeout, the Blue then stopped the two-point conversion attempt. The Blue recovered an ensuing onsides kick attempt to seal its first victory since 2010.
“I tell you what, it was a hard-fought game on both sides,” said Tkach. “I’m very, very proud of these kids. Everybody was talking about Blue all week long. They were going to do this and they were going to do that. Our kids rose to the challenge and played with a lot of pride. I’m very happy for them.”
Woodbridge’s Logan Wescott came up with a highlight-reel interception in the third quarter to end the Blue’s best scoring chance up to that point.
Wescott reached up and snared the ball at the goal line with one hand after the Blue had the ball at the Gold 19.
The Blue had actually scored on a seven-yard run by Hodgson’s Jones the play before. But the touchdown was wiped out by a holding penalty.
“I didn’t know I was going to catch it with one hand at first,” said Delaware State-bound Wescott, who had two interceptions in the contest. “I just went up, it was right there and it stuck.
“This was probably the greatest week of my life. It’s created a bond that can never be broken with this team.”
The contest featured nine turnovers. Besides Wescott, Lake Forest’s D.J. Cornish had a fumble recovery and interception while Middletown’s Luke Elentrio recovered a pair of fumbles.
Cornish was named the game’s top lineman. He just wishes an interception he returned 28 yards for an apparent TD in the second half had held up.
The return, though, was wiped out by an illegal-block penalty.
“It was a really exciting play,” said Cornish. “I was really excited because that was a play that would have put my team on top. ... It’s how it goes sometimes. Hats off to both teams.”
In a scoreless first half, the most notable stat was the four turnovers that the Gold took from the Blue.
Cornish recovered a fumble at the Blue 28 in the first quarter while Wescott intercepted a pass at the Gold 40.
Despite the good field position, though, the Gold couldn’t find the end zone. In the first half, the Blue outgained the Gold 107 yards to 43 and held a 5-2 edge in first downs.
The Gold didn’t pick up its initial first down of the contest until there was 7:19 left in the second quarter. The Gold did get as far as the Blue 27 late in the second quarter before a fourth-down interception ended the drive.
In the end, the only thing that separated the two squads was one stopped two-point conversion.
“It was football,” Cornish said about the play. ‘Man vs. man, power vs. power, who wanted it more. They came out on top.”
William Penn’s Reggie Carroll ran for 82 yards on 18 carries. ... Campbell was 5-of-13 passing for 58 yards. ... St. Georges Keyjuan Selby, who is expected to play defensive back for Delaware State in the fall, had an interception on the first drive of the game. Selby’s twin brother, Taronn, who also played on Saturday night’s game, is also going to be a Hornet. ... Middletown’s Elentrio is the 10th member of the Coveleski family to take part in the event. ... Milford’s Mike Tkach, Jr. punted seven times in the game.
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or email@example.com.