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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Hammonton tops Rancocas Valley

THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940. St. Joseph quarterback Jimmy Mantuano attempts a pass during last week’s game at Cedar Creek.

MT. HOLLY—After a pair of lackluster performances, including its first loss of the season at Mainland, Hammonton High School’s football team played a solid all-around game in a 21-14 win at Rancocas Valley last week.

Sophomore running back Kenny Smith scored two touchdowns and ran for 109 yards in the win as Hammonton used a punishing ground attack to control the clock and set the tempo of the game from start to finish.

The Blue Devils were coming off two games where their offense struggled to run the ball and committed several turnovers. Last week, Hammonton was able to quickly establish the run and avoided mistakes in earning its fifth win of the season.

Smith set the tone for the night on the Blue Devils first offensive play, cutting back off a strong block from Christian Medina and sprinting up the middle for a 55-yard touchdown run and a quick 7-0 Hammonton lead.

Rancocas Valley, which was coming off two-straight losses, immediately fought back, mixing short runs with quick passes to march 68 yards in eight plays and tie the game when Kevin Burr hit Jamier Rollins in the back of the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown pass.

Hammonton answered with another score, this time driving 62 yards in eight plays, all runs, and taking a 14-7 lead when Josh Camargo slipped around the right side, broke a tackle and eluded another defender for a 26-yard touchdown run, his first of the season.

It looked like the game might turn into a high-scoring shootout, but Kye Pressley’s sack on a third-and-long helped end Rancocas Valley’s next drive and after a Hammonton turnover set the Red Devils up at the 50-yard line, Andy Wehner intercepted a Burr pass to half Rancocas Valley at the Hammonton 18-yard line.

The Blue Devils made Rancocas Valley pay for the mistake, once again staying on the ground to move to the Red Devils 14-yard line before throwing for the first time in the game, as Billy Way found Smith for a 14-yard touchdown and a 21-7 halftime lead.

John Smith’s sack ended Rancocas Valley’s initial drive of the second half, and after a Hammonton punt, the Red Devils next possession ended with a Pressley sack.

Hammonton punted again, and this time the Red Raiders were able to drive for a score, as Burr’s pass to Jase Deiter and a few runs from Jerimya Paula set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Burr to Brody Dieter to cut Hammonton’s lead to 21-14 with 3:53 left in the game.

Rancocas Valley forced another Hammonton punt, taking over at its own 16-yard line with 2:51 remaining on the clock. The Red Devils advanced to their own 31, but on fourth down, Burr’s pass across the middle was tipped away by Hammonton linebacker Joey Gillen, sealing the win for the Blue Devils.

The victory was Hammonton’s fifth of the season and ended a stretch of three-straight road games for the Blue Devils.

This weekend, Hammonton hosts Timber Creek on October 7 at 6 p.m.

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