Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Steve Mulville’s field goal lifts Lenape past Kingsway

The senior made a 48-yarder on a rainy night as the defending South Jersey Group 5 champions advanced to the sectional semifinals with a 3-0 victory over the Dragons.

Lenape's Steve Mulville made a 48-yard field goal for the difference in the Indians' 3-0 win over Kingsway.
Lenape's Steve Mulville made a 48-yard field goal for the difference in the Indians' 3-0 win over Kingsway.Read moreElizabeth Robertson/Staff photographer

Kingsway looked like Lenape.

But the big news on Friday night was that Lenape looked like Lenape, too.

The Indians recalled their recent past with another tournament victory, riding a sturdy defense and one huge special-teams play to a 3-0 triumph over the visiting Dragons in a rain-soaked and mud-splattered South Jersey Group 5 opener on Friday night.

For the second straight postseason game – albeit one separated by 11 months – kicker Steve Mulville made the difference for Lenape.

In the 2017 sectional final at Rowan in December, Mulville's 33-yard field goal with five seconds on the clock lifted Lenape to a 10-7 victory over Rancocas Valley.

Mulville's heroics were less dramatic on Friday night but no less significant to the outcome. This time, the kicker connected on a 48-yarder in the second quarter for the game's only points.

"I just wanted to come through for my team," Mulville said after powering the third-seeded Indians into the sectional semifinals, where they will face the winner of Saturay night's clash between second-seeded Rancocas Valley and seventh-seeded Eastern.

That Red Devils-Vikings game was postponed for a day because of  the bad weather.

The Indians and Dragons played in the elements, with players from both teams slipping and sliding in what gradually developed into a mud pit at midfield.

"The conditions were tough," Kingsway coach Mark Hendricks said. "That took away a little of our ability to use our speed. But my hat's off to Lenape. They are a good football team. They line up right. They play good special teams. They play defense."

Hendricks is Lenape's former defensive coordinator. He has been Kingsway's coach for three seasons and has been trying to replicate the Indians' method for success by building a program that leans heavily on its defense, running game and fundamentally sound play.

"Like looking in the mirror," Lenape coach Joe Wojceichowski said of playing Kingsway.

Kingsway (5-4), the No. 3 seed, got some good work in difficult conditions from junior quarterback Alex Odom and senior running back A.J. Butler.

Odom's 17-yard run, Butler's 11-yard run and Odom's 15-yard completion to fullback Sylvester Van Morter on fourth-and-6 highlighted the Dragons' best drive of the game, a march that reached the Lenape 10-yard line midway in the fourth quarter.

But a bad snap that resulted in a 13-yard loss, an incompletion in the end zone and a missed field goal ended the Dragons' top scoring chance.

"We had our chances," Hendricks said. "In a game like this, you just can't afford to make those mistakes."

Sophomore Xavier Coleman gained 49 yards on 20 hard carries for Lenape (5-4).

The Indians' lone scoring drive featured a couple of key completions by sophomore quarterback Brady Long, to senior fullback Craig Dason for 17 yards, and to senior wide receiver Brandon Marshall for 16 yards.

That moved Mulville inside his range of 50 yards. The senior nailed a low line drive that just cleared the crossbar on a 48-yard attempt on the second play of the second quarter.

"This was two good football teams going at each other for 48 minutes," Wojceichowski said. "The difference was a 48-yard field goal. Otherwise, we'd still be playing well into the night."

It was a game marked by the weather and dominated by the defenses.

Lenape sophomore defensive end Jalen Walker, who didn't play football as a freshman, made two big sacks in the fourth quarter to stymie Kingsway's last two drives.

"I just wanted to make a play for my team," Walker said.

Strong defense in high-stakes games surely felt familiar to Lenape, since the team's success over the previous four seasons has been grounded in its steady, sturdy play on that side of the football.

This year has been something of a rebuilding project for the Indians as they lost so many key athletes from last year's championship team as well as former coach Tim McAneney.

But the team with the muddy red uniforms is advancing in the state tournament again.

"That was so much fun," Lenape senior linebacker Ryan Erlanger said. "It had a back-yard feel to it, just all the rain and mud and rolling around and finding a way to get the job done."

Kingsway  0  0  0  0  –  0

Lenape      0  3  0  0  –  3

L: Steve Mulville 48 FG