Salesianum football BJ Alleyne runs the ball against Smyrna photo courtesy of Donnell Henriquez

Salesianum advances to DIAA football semifinal

Jason WinchellHeadlines, Sports

Salesianum football BJ Alleyne runs the ball against Smyrna photo courtesy of Donnell Henriquez

Salesianum football BJ Alleyne runs the ball against Smyrna, photo courtesy of Donnell Henriquez

WILMINGTON – B.J. Alleyne was not going to let something like the Smyrna defense stop him. The Salesianum senior running back, who had already scored four times against the Eagles in their DIAA Class 3A football quarterfinal, lined up in the shotgun on fourth and goal from the 2 with seven seconds showing on the clock.

Alleyne took the snap from center, ran behind the right side of his line and snuck the ball over the goal line, giving the top-seeded Sals a 41-40 lead over the defending champion and No. 8 seed Eagles. Smyrna tried multiple laterals on the kickoff, but one went forward, so the play – and the game – was over.

The top-seeded Sals will host a semifinal next Friday or Saturday against the fifth seed, Middletown. The Cavaliers advanced with a win Saturday against No. 4 Hodgson. The Sals defeated Middletown during the regular season.

The game turned into an entertaining shootout, a back-and-forth affair that thrilled the crowd. Smyrna took the opening kickoff and marched down, getting a 5-yard run from Kahmaj Kearney. Sals quarterback Brady McBride threw a screen pass to Alleyne on their first play from scrimmage, gaining 35 yards to the Eagles’ 20. McBride threw his next two passes to Ben Anton, the second of which went for a touchdown and a 7-6 lead.

They increased the lead to 14-6 late in the first quarter on Alleyne’s first score, a 33-yard burst down the right side. Smyrna answered with a plethora of offensive options, carving through the Salesianum defense  to take the lead. The Eagles opened up their bag of tricks, running a double-reverse flea-flicker, ending when Tiberi hit a wide-open Kearney for a 43-yard score with 7:59 left in the half.  An interception gave the Eagles possession at the Sals’ 29, and it took four plays before Chrystian Carroll ran it in from 11. Both two-point conversions were good, and the lead was 22-14.

The first-half scoring was far from over. Alleyne had all five carries in a 40-yard drive for the Sals immediately after the Eagles scored, including a 16-yard score. Smyrna finished it up, getting a touchdown run from #26 with 38 seconds left in the half.

Salesianum took the opening kickoff after halftime and promptly tied the game on an Alleyne score. That began the seesaw. A Sals fumble later in the third gave the Eagles the ball at their own 37, and Tiberi passed them down into the red zone. Finally, he found Henriquez open for the go-ahead touchdown. Smyrna missed the two-point conversion, and their lead was 34-28.

A long Smyrna drive ended with a punt, giving the Sals possession at their own 24 with 7:46 to go. They kept it on the ground, primarily with Alleyne but with Jasir Gaymon and Lego also contributing. McBride added a 28-yard run. Alleyne finished with a one-yard run. There was 4:04 left.

The Eagles didn’t need nearly that much time to answer. From their 30, Tiberi rolled left on first down, then tossed the ball to Andre Ashley as two Sals defenders closed in. Ashley scampered untouched down the sideline to restore the Eagles’ lead with 3:44 to go. Again, however, the conversion was no good, and the lead was just five.

Facing a fourth and 11, with the season on the line, McBride scrambled for 18 yards to the Eagles’ 42. Alleyne then ran to the 18, and McBride carried to the 9. The Sals had a first and goal at the 4, but two runs and a penalty gave them a third and goal at the 7. McBride threw to Hunter Balint, who managed to get out of bounds at the 2 with 7 seconds to go. Everyone knew what was coming. Alleyne took a direct snap and ran behind right tackle, barely breaking the plane of the goal. The Sals had the win.

Alleyne finished with 200 yards rushing as Salesianum improved to 10-1. Smyrna finished 4-7.

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