WALTON — Ouch!
Walton quarterback Dalton Kaminsky left on a gurney, Delhi running back Brian Ingram walked away on crutches and several others spent a extra time face down or belly up on the soft grass Saturday at Jim Hoover Field.
The annual Route 10 rivalry in the Section Four Football Conference featured its share of hard hits and bad breaks for both Division VIII teams, but Walton staked an early claim to a Class D playoff spot with a 28-18 victory that ended a three-game slide.
“We’ve lost three in a row and even though they’re three very, very good football teams, it’s still tough to lose three in a row here at Walton,” said 37th-year Walton coach Jim Hoover, whose name is also attached to the Section Four record for most coaching victories (291). “We’re not used to that and its been a real, real tough stretch and our kids needed to win. The way they stepped up after Dalton got hurt was just unbelievable — unbelievable.”
Kaminsky appeared to be in an unbelievable amount of pain after getting gang-tackled near the right sideline with a little less than three minutes to go in the third quarter. His 2-yard gain on a first-and-10 keeper that started at Walton’s 14 seemed like just another play until on-site medical personnel joined the small crowd of adults around the 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior.
Kaminsky grimaced, gritted his teeth and moaned as his left arm was set into a makeshift sling, all of which intensified as he was helped to his feet and then onto the gurney. His next stop was Delaware Valley Hospital in Walton.
“It’s definitely a broken arm,” Hoover said of Kaminsky’s season-ending injury, which likely will wipe out his senior basketball season as well. “He broke it. He was in so much pain because he broke it right above the elbow. He landed on it.”
Shortly after Kaminsky was cautiously wheeled away along the all-weather track that surrounds Hoover Field, the Warriors (2-3, 1-0) nearly gave up their 14-6 lead.
Backup QB Matt Sinistore handed off to Trevor Spencer on the next play and the ball shot out of the senior running back’s hands after a few steps up the middle. Noah DeDominicis recovered the ball at Walton’s 20 for Delhi (2-3, 1-1), which followed with a five-play scoring drive that featured a 17-yard pass from Ben Denison to Brandon Simonds on fourth-and-10 and a 3-yard TD run by Ingram to make it 14-12.
Despite stuffing Ingram on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, Walton seemed anything but inspired. That prompted Hoover to remind his players they still held a two-point lead with 54.5 seconds left in the third quarter.
Walton started the next drive at its 31, where Sinistore fumbled the first-down snap. Senior lineman Joe Sinistore recovered the ball, though, and two plays later, junior running back Austin Kilmer broke free for his second touchdown run of 60-plus yards.
Kilmer shook a shoulder-high tackle attempt near the line of scrimmage before sprinting through a gap in the middle en route to a 67-yard TD and a 22-12 lead as Spencer followed with a successful conversion run.
“I got an open field and just got going,” said Kilmer, whose 66-yard run with 5:04 left in the first quarter opened the scoring. “If you can read it, then you can find the hole and get down the field.”
The Bulldogs came right back, though, with another five-play scoring drive that covered 39 yards. Denison capped that one, too, with a third-and-7 jump pass that found Austin Gullow in the shallow left corner of the end zone to make it 22-18.
Walton took over with 10:11 left and kept the ball for more than eight minutes thanks to a botched punt return.
After advancing the ball 14 yards on five straight running plays, Walton was forced to punt on a fourth-and-6 from its 36. Robert Merrill’s high kick drifted toward the left sideline and hit the right leg of an oncoming DeDominicis, who tried to stop his momentum but slipped forward.
The ball stayed inbounds, allowing Kilmer to recover at Delhi’s 39 with 7:06 remaining.
“I would have liked to have given our offense a chance on that messed up punt, but I can’t explain it,” said 47th-year Delhi coach Dave Kelly, who ranks second on Section Four’s all-time wins list with 267.
Said Hoover: “That was a big play. We said it before the game — when we need a break, we haven’t got one all year. Good teams make their own breaks. What they do makes their own breaks. And we finally got a break.”
Walton followed with 10 consecutive running plays, including a 4-yard gain by Spencer on fourth-and-inches at Delhi’s 18. Spencer also had a 9-yard gain to set up Mike Beers for a 2-yard TD run on first-and-goal for the final points.
“We had a reasonably good plan, but we have to realize you have to be on task every snap,” said Kelly, whose defense allowed Kilmer to run for 168 yards, Beers to amass 107 and Spencer to finish with 84. “A couple of things that happened to us on runs were people didn’t get it done.”
Denison completed 10 of 20 passes for 82 yards. He was intercepted once as Spencer made a Willie Mays-like catch along the left side of Walton’s 20 with 8:29 to play in the third quarter.
DeDominicis had a team-best 56 rushing yards for the Bulldogs, who lost Ingram to a right-ankle injury inside the last minute. Ingram got tripped up while blocking for Denison on a keeper, needed help to walk off the field and ended up on crutches.
“I think he’s going to be all right,” said Kelly, whose team visits Whitney Point (1-4) for a non-division game this Saturday. “I think (his ankle is) going to be real sore. I don’t know how long it’s going to take (to heal).”
Walton visits Harpursville (4-1, 1-0) on Saturday for a game that will determine the top spot in Division VIII.
Dean Russin can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.