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Howard Wildcats win second straight division II state title

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Howard Wildcats Football State Champs

Howard Wildcats Football State Champs photo courtesy of DIAA Stephanie Mark

DOVER — Kevin Ignudo scored three touchdowns and intercepted two passes to lead an overwhelming performance by the Howard Wildcats in a 42-6 win over Archmere in the DIAA Division II football  state championship game Dec. 19 at Dover High School. It was the Wildcats’ second straight title and third in the last six years.

The Wildcats came in as the No. 2 seed, but they had the better of the top-seeded Auks from the get-go on both sides of the ball. They forced the Auks to turn the ball over on downs on the opening possession, and from there, the offensive floodgates were open.

Howard appeared to have a touchdown on a hook-and-lateral play on first down, but it was called back because of a penalty. That only delayed the scoring by a few minutes, as Keshaun Watson wrapped up a nine-play drive with a 7-yard scoring run for the game’s first score. The two-point conversion was stopped, which became one of the themes of the evening.

Ignudo caught a long pass on the next Howard drive to put his team on the Auks’ 2, and he did the scoring this time, going in from a yard out. The first quarter ended with Howard up, 12-0.

The speedy junior put the Wildcats back on offense with his first interception, which ended with Ignudo tap dancing on the sideline to catch the ball inbounds. Watson ended this drive with a 14-yard run, but the Wildcats surely won’t forget the 13 yards Ignudo picked up on a third and 12 during the drive.

The special teams got in on the act early in the third. Mike Brock blocked an Auks punt, and four Ignudo rushes later, the lead had grown to 24-0. Donovan Cartwright’s 54-yard touchdown pass to Tyair Spencer accounted for the Wildcats’ next drive. Once again, the Howard defense forced an Archmere punt, and this time, backup quarterback Rashaan Matthews came in to hit Spencer in stride for what would become a 72-yard score.

The Auks temporarily stopped the running clock when Michael Mallamaci caught a 5-yard pass from Chris Albero with 10:07 left in the game. The time started running again, however, in a matter of moments as Ignudo struck again. This time, he took a handoff and bolted 91 yards to end the scoring.

Howard finished with an 8-0 record. The team’s lowest winning margin was 21, which came against Red Lion in the DIAA semifinal.

The Auks wrapped up the season at 8-1. The school has reached a football state championship game in each of the five decades the state has sponsored the event.

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