Goddard stuns Derby 50-20 at home
To be exact, it had been 721 days.
For 24 straight games, spanning three different seasons, Derby had prevailed and done so looking like the best team in the state.
But on Friday night, it was Goddard’s turn to play the bully.
The Lions and their senior quarterback, Blake Sullivan, eviscerated the two-time defending Class 6A champions 50-20 in front of a raucous home crowd on Friday, doing something no team has been able to accomplish in the last seven years against Derby: win by more than a touchdown.
It was Derby’s worst loss since suffering a 70-31 defeat to Heights in 2010. Goddard considered it payback for the 35-6 thumping Derby delivered in a game called at halftime last September. The halftime score this year? 43-6, Goddard.
“We wanted this game so bad,” said Sullivan, who scored six touchdowns with more than 400 total yards. “We wanted to stick it to them. They’re No. 1 for a reason, but we knew if we played physical and start out strong then we would win this game.”
Sullivan scored the first of his four rushing touchdowns less than two minutes into the game. Goddard led 8-0 after the first drive, 15-0 after four minutes, and 22-0 after the first quarter.
Derby has faced plenty of deficits in the last six years, but never has it been buried in a 22-point hole so early in a game.
“We’ve got to become more physical,” Derby coach Brandon Clark said. “It’s not that we can’t do it right now, but it’s about confidence and them believing in themselves. You’ve got to believe in yourself before you can play fast and right now we’re searching for that belief.”
Clark’s demand for increased physicality comes after Goddard dominated the line of scrimmage with both of its lines on Friday. The offensive line, anchored by A.J. Vang, Aaron Valentine, and Chod Morrow, often created so much space that Sullivan had five yards in front of him free to build up enough speed to either punish the oncoming safeties with plows forward or out-race defenders to the end zone.
On defense, Goddard contained Derby’s all-state running back, Brody Kooser, and consistently applied pressure in the backfield.
“Kooser is a great back and he’s really fast, but we knew coming in that we were the more physical team and that’s going to be our advantage in every game we play,” senior linebacker Justin Amaro said. “We’re some bad dudes. What else can I say?”
But still, 22-0 after eight minutes and 43-6 at halftime? Did Goddard believe this was possible?
“I’m not going to lie, it was pretty crazy,” Vang said. “I was looking up at the scoreboard in the first quarter and I was like, ‘Are we really up 22-0 right now?’ It was crazy, but I knew we had to keep going. We couldn’t stop.”
Sullivan never did stop.
His mastery of the read-option consistently duped Derby’s defense, which was transitioning 11 new starters, and his darts to Owen Beason and Zack True in the passing game consistently went for big yardage. He even intercepted a hail mary pass at the end of the first half, then nearly returned it 90 yards for a touchdown.
But Sullivan’s defining play came just before his interception in the second quarter. Goddard was 12 yards from the end zone as he dropped back for a pass. A blitzing Derby linebacker wrapped him up on his blind-side, but Sullivan had the strength to whip him off and then the speed to roll to his left and drop a floater to a wide-open Blake Mitchell in the end zone — a sure-fire sack turned into a touchdown.
“That’s just some special, special stuff right there,” Goddard coach Scott Vang said. “You can’t coach that. That’s just kids making plays.”
After losing in the Class 5A championship game by one point in double overtime, Goddard wanted to make a statement on Friday.
“We showed we’re a real contender this year,” Amaro said. “We are going to roll through our opponents, we are going to put up numbers, and we are going to do great things. This senior class knows what we’ve got to do.”
Last season Goddard rebounded from its thumping by winning 10 straight games and reaching the 5A title game. Can Derby do the same?
“We’ve got two choices: we can either sit here and feel sorry for ourselves and throw a little pity party or we can rebound from this,” Derby coach Brandon Clark said.