Cullen Moore rushed for a pair of touchdowns and threw the game winner to pace the visiting Delaware Hayes football team in its 20-13 victory over arch-rival Buckeye Valley Friday night in Delaware.
“(Moore is) half fullback, half quarterback,” Hayes coach Mike Golden said. “All of his strength training and all of his commitment to excellence paid off.”
Derrick Buford ran under a 24-yard fade pass by Moore to put the Pacers up for good with 7:06 left in the game.
“The line did a great job protecting all night,” Moore said. “(Buford) made an NFL-level catch right there. We had max protection and I saw him and threw it and they got the job done, I just threw the ball.”
Barons quarterback Ben Spaulding led BV inside the 5 when he went up the middle on a draw. Grant Conahan put his helmet on the ball, though, and knocked it straight up before Aaron Adair recovered with 58 seconds left to preserve the win.
“You have a kid that’s trying to make a play,” BV coach Matt Stephens said. “It looked like the defender put his helmet right on the ball and that’s what happens. (Conahan) made a play there.”
Adair also had an interception, one of four turnovers forced by the Pacer defense.
“I thought we did a good job on defense of keeping things from becoming big plays,” Golden said.
Moore finished 15-for-29 for 162 yards with an interception through the air and a game-high 64 yards rushing on the ground.
“He’s bound by my offense,” Golden said. “He could be (in a pass heavy) offense and do well. He’s got a really good arm and is a good decision-maker.”
His 10-yard touchdown capped a third quarter drive in which he carried four times for 45 yards. He went left and broke a tackle before he found daylight to put the Pacers up 13-6 with 11:53 left in the game.
“The second half is always really strong for us,” Moore said. “If we can come out from the start and play like we did that second half, I think we can be great.”
Buckeye Valley’s Chris Santillon broke containment on the right side and scampered 78 yards for the tying touchdown after a penalty forced a re-kick on the ensuing kickoff.
“Chris is athletically gifted,” Stephens said. “He’s one of these guys that you can put anywhere and he’s going to play well. He had a big punt return that set us up (on the final drive), the kickoff return … several pass plays where he caught the ball and ran for extra yards. He balled for us, no doubt.”
The Pacers controlled much of the first quarter, outgaining the Barons 87-14 … but the Barons struck first.
Ben Spaulding moved the BV down the field thanks to four straight completions and a couple of Delaware penalties and found the end zone on a bootleg from a yard out to give the Barons a 6-0 lead.
Santillon intercepted Moore at the BV 2-yard line and returned it 33 yards to set up the touchdown.
Spaulding went 13-for-23 for 160 yards and Teren Wycoff chipped in 54 yards rushing on 12 carries to lead BV on offense.
“He typically puts us in good positions,” Stephens said. “A couple of times (Friday night), he didn’t make the right reads, which is a little out of character for him. But, we ask a lot of him. Ben Spaulding is a (heck) of a quarterback and he wasn’t hitting on all cylinders.”
Delaware responded with a 13-play drive that went 60 yards. Moore completed three passes for 26 yards on the drive before he found the end zone using his feet. His 6-yard scamper around the right side and the ensuing extra point gave the Pacers the lead with 4:30 left in the first half.
The Barons moved right down the field thanks to four more completions by Spaulding, three of which were for 10 yards or more.
Adair stepped in front of a Spaulding pass at the 12-yard line to end the threat with 58 seconds left in the half.
It was the second straight year that the BV-Hayes game came down to the wire.
“Coach (Stephens) has done a great job prepping for us,” Golden said. “They play us very tough. I give them all of the credit in the world. We showed just enough character to pull it off.”
Next up, Delaware opens its home schedule with Marysville and Buckeye Valley visits Whetstone. Both games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.