Maurki James carried the ball 28 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns Nov. 17, as Cape upset Dover 25-20 in the quarterfinal round of the DIAA Group 3 football tournament.
The Vikings will face Sussex Central in the semifinal round Friday, Nov. 24.
Cape secured its first win in the state tournament since a 1984 semifinal 10-7 victory over William Penn.
Coach Mike Frederick told his team after the game: “If this win tonight was your goal for the season, then this is as far as we’ll go. But our goals have always been bigger.”
Frederick then shouted the mantra for the season: “Why not us, baby?”
Cape was leading the game 25-13 with 4:22 left to play. The band was playing “Hey Baby,” but the Senators had the ball and were capable of scoring with lethal jackrabbit quickness.
Cam Joyner made a spectacular interception in the corner of the end zone to ease the tension. But the Vikings were three and out, as Dover used two timeouts.
Nasheem Cosme found John Parker on a 4-yard touchdown pass to tighten the game to 25-20 with 1:09 remaining. All Cape had to do was handle the onside kick, then go to victory formation. But the Brandon Yoder onside kick was textbook perfect, taking the high bounce over the front line, and the Senators recovered.
The ball was at the Cape 20, and with under a minute left to play, Joyner fearlessly broke on a ball for his second interception of the quarter, saving the game for Cape.
“Cam made two amazing plays with two picks in the last five minutes,” Frederick said. “The first, he was manned up versus Parker. The ball was underthrown and he high-pointed it in the end zone. The second, he put his foot in the ground and drove on the football as well as any repetition this year by a defensive back. He baited the throw as the quarterback scrambled and he jumped it. It was high-risk, high-reward, but the team needed it at that moment and he delivered.”
Rob Schroeder, head coach of the 1984 Cape team and offensive coordinator of the 1979 state championship team coached by Jim Alderman, always said, “Cape football successes have always been about great athletes making big plays in big games.”
There were several second-half big plays. Cape trailed 10-9 at the half, then 13-9 nearing the end of the third quarter when Jameson Tingle (5-for-10, 74 yards) hit Amari Jackson on third and 25 for a first down, leading to a 4-yard James touchdown. The Wilson Ingerski kick gave Cape a 16-13 lead entering the final period.
Frederick said, “We were just trying to get some of [the yardage] back and Jameson drops a beautiful pass to Amari Jackson, a tough-as-nails 10th-grader who just plain catches anything you throw in his general vicinity.”
Cape took points off the board in the fourth quarter after a made Ingerski field goal followed by a roughing penalty. Cape went for the kill shot but turned the ball back to Dover on the six-yard line.
Jukai Payne, an athletic defensive end, fast-tracked unabated to the quarterback for a 2-point safety. Dover then free kicked the ball back to Cape and later James broke loose on a 59-yard touchdown run for a 25-13 lead.
James made a crazy cut on an inside zone bend-back play, took it frontside and went untouched once he hit the edge for 59 yards.
“Then we just held on and survived,” Frederick said. “And now we move on. There is more work to do.”
Cape will play at Sussex Central at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 24. The Golden Knights beat Appoquinimink 28-7 to reach the semifinals.