Area football fans got the smash-mouth football they expected last night in the South Jersey Group 2 championship game between West Deptford and host Delsea.
What they didn't expect was the ending.
Delsea kicker Mike Straubmuller emerged the unlikely hero when he snapped a 14-14 tie with 4 seconds remaining by drilling a 23-yard field goal to win the game, 17-14.
The victory brought Delsea its eighth group title and first since 2005.
"I thought the kick was too low," Straubmuller said. "I didn't think it was going to go [through], but my center had a good snap, the holder put it down and what can you say? I got lucky.
"Now we're [sectional] champions, baby."
The junior was especially happy to be so involved in the victory because he transferred to Delsea from Washington Township at the end of his freshmen year. Furthermore, he had been sharing kicking duties at the beginning of the season.
During the winning drive, which started on its own 11-yard line, top-seeded Delsea (8-3) covered 84 yards with junior Chris Jackson at the controls and Austin Medley and Casmir Okoro sweeping up the yardage.
Medley, who ran 1 yard to knot the score, 14-14, with 7 minutes, 45 seconds left in the fourth period, registered his 1,000th yard rushing in the final minutes of the game.
"I worked so hard this year, me and my teammates, it feels like we got a paycheck today for one year's worth of work," said the 5-foot-11, 188-pound junior, who carried the ball 22 times for 83 yards.
"It came down to the last couple seconds of the game, and it doesn't matter how we won," Medley said. "We won.
"That [1,000 yards] feels good."
West Deptford (9-2) also had a player reach the 1,000-yard plateau when Jimmy Owens tied the game, 7-7, on an 11-yard run with 4:42 left in the second period.
Owens rushed 22 times for 79 yards to lead the second-seeded Eagles in that department. In the third quarter, they took a 14-7 lead when senior quarterback Ryan Ritchie showed pass then ran 13 yards for a touchdown.
Ritchie characteristically didn't throw many balls, completing 6 of 9 passes for 64 yards, and Delsea's pass defense, led by Dylan Wilton, swatted three throws to the ground.
Fumbles plagued both teams, especially Delsea on its opening drive. The Crusaders, mainly on the legs of Austin and Okoro, rumbled to West Deptford's 3-yard line when Medley lost the ball.
But on its next possession, Delsea went ahead, 7-0, when Jackson found Okoro with a 34-yard TD pass.
West Deptford 0 7 7 0 - 14
Delsea 7 0 0 10 - 17
D: Okoro 34 pass from Jackson (Straubmuller kick)
WD: Owens 11 run (Cornelius kick)
WD: Ritchie 9 run (Cornelius kick)
D: Medley 1 run (Straubmuller kick)
D: FG 23 Straubmuller