• Dan Russoman

Delsea edges St. Joe on late touchdown


THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940. St. Joseph’s Nasir Mahmoud (7) attempts tackle Delsea’s Luke Maxwell (4) late in last week’s game.

OCEAN CITY—A steady dose of Kenny Smith proved too much for Ocean City High School’s football team last week Hammonton’s sophomore running back gained 233 yards and scored twice in the Blue Devils 28-14 victory.


With the win, Hammonton earned the top seed in the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs. The Blue Devils will host Hightstown on October 28.


Last week, Hammonton started slowly against Ocean City as penalties and special teams miscues allowed the host Red Raiders to keep the game close.


Both teams needed a win to solidify their postseason seeding, and with a possible top seed on the line, Hammonton turned to Smith, who carried the ball a career-high 33 times in the victory.


The Blue Devils ran the ball well on their first possession of the game, driving 41 yards in six plays, all on the ground, and taking a 7-0 lead when Lucas Goehringer scored on a 10-yard run.


Ocean City answered back immediately, as John Moyer fielded the ensuing kickoff at the Raiders 5-yard line, headed left before cutting back to the right sideline where he outran Hammonton’s coverage for a 95-yard touchdown return that tied the game, 7-7.


Penalties hurt Hammonton on its next two drives , and the Blue Devils final possession of the first half ended at the Ocean City 21-yard line.


With the score tied 7-7 at halftime, Ocean City wasted little time taking the lead in the third quarter, as Kasey Ruf recovered a Hammonton fumble on the opening kickoff of the half, setting the Red Raiders up at the Blue Devils 25-yard line.


From there, Riley Gunnels connected with Pat Lonergan on a 35-yard touchdown pass that gave Ocean City a 14-7 lead.


On its next drive, Hammonton turned to Smith and the sophomore responded, carrying the ball 10 times to help the Blue Devils move from their own 15-yard line to the Ocean City 1, where Kye Pressley scored to tie the game, 14-14.


Ocean City missed a field goal on its ensuing possession, and Hammonton’s next drive ended early in the fourth quarter with a score, this one from Smith on a 1-yard run. Once again, the Blue Devils kept the ball on the ground, covering 80 yards in 12 plays, all runs.


After stopping Ocean City’s next drive, Hammonton sealed the win with another scoring drive, this one covering 59 yards. Aided by a penalty against Ocean City, the Blue Devils tacked on a late touchdown when Smith broke free for a 23-yard touchdown run to make the final score 28-14.


The win gave the Blue Devils the top seed in the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs.


Hammonton will host eighth-seeded Hightstown on October 28 at 6 p.m.


The remainder of the South Jersey Group 4 bracket includes the following games: (5) Ocean City at (4) Shawnee; (6) Manalapan at (3) Jackson Memorial; and (7) Lacey at (2) Millville.


Winners will play next weekend. If the Blue Devils reach the semifinals, they will host either Ocean City or Shawnee.