LAUREL – Their first meeting a month ago went to overtime.
Their rematch Friday was over in no time.
Top-seeded Laurel was in no mood for a repeat of its stressful one-point regular-season victory over Indian River Nov. 5 and it showed in Friday’s DIAA Class 1A semifinal at chilly Schollenberger Field.
The Bulldogs scored 27 first-half points and rolled to a 33-0 victory, advancing to the inaugural 1A title game next Saturday at 6 p.m. at Delaware Stadium.
“We played the perfect game tonight, honestly,” said Kyle Weaver, who scored one of Laurel’s five touchdowns.
Laurel improved to 10-2. In the previous state tournament format before this year’s three-class set-up, Laurel won Division II titles in 1986, 1987 and 1991 and appeared in four other title games, most recently in 2014.
“This is what we set out for at the beginning of the year,” Laurel coach Joey Jones said.
No. 3 Tatnall (7-4) meets No. 2 St. Elizabeth (10-1) in the other Class 1A semifinal on Saturday at Wilmington’s Abessinio Stadium at 7 p.m.
Laurel had prevailed 14-13 in the first matchup in Dagsboro. Fifth-seeded Indian River (6-5) was looking for its first win over its Henlopen Conference Southern Division rivals since 2018.
“We obviously have very high expectations of our guys,” Jones said. “We felt like we didn’t play our best [in the first game]. Hats off to Indian River. They really came after us the first time. We were fortunate that when we played not our best we still pulled it out and maintained that leverage in the district, but really excited to come out here and do what we hoped we could do.”
Quarterback Kaden Shockley’s 1-yard keeper accounted for Laurel’s lone first-quarter TD.
But they poured it on with three in the second quarter on Kylse Wilson’s 1-yard run, Weaver’s 4-yard dash and Javier White’s 4-yard carry.
Two touchdowns were set up when Laurel’s rush prevented IR from getting off a punt and then the Bulldogs blocked the next one.
“The first game we weren’t really controlling the line of scrimmage,” said senior lineman Jacquez Parker-Cannon. “We were letting them get the best of us. But we came back, worked harder and harder, and you saw what happened tonight.”
Patrick Belle’s acrobatic 2-yard touchdown catch finished the scoring for Laurel in the third quarter.
Jones praised his team’s intensity.
“These guys have been fired up for two weeks now. They’ve been super pumped, and we knew Indian River was probably gonna be here and these guys were geared up.”
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This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Laurel handles Indian River to reach DIAA football final