The Thunderbolts made an improbable strike on opening night of the 2012 scholastic football season.
Trailing by one point late in the fourth quarter, Millville High School quarterback Rashon Sorrell connected with wide receiver DeQuan Bowman on a 72-yard bomb down the right sideline for a touchdown to put the Bolts ahead 24-19 with 1 minute, 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The Millville defense, which made key stops all night, sacked Atlantic City quarterback Jarren McBride, forcing and recovering a fumble to seal the win at Dr. Jack Eisenstein Athletic Complex.
“You can’t mess up in that situation, everyone is depending on you,” Bowman said of hauling in the clutch scoring pass. “It just shows you, never give up. Stay strong, especially in the fourth quarter.”
The victory was Millville’s fourth-straight season-opening win. The Bolts (1-0) are now 3-1 against Atlantic City (0-1) in their last four contests.
“I just needed to stay calm, trust my teammates and try to make a play,” said Sorrell, who finished with 122 yards and a pair of throwing scores. “We play a lot of great games against Atlantic City. I’m just very excited that we were able to come in here and get a win.”
Millville went up 18-13 with 7:09 left in the third quarter on a 79-yard touchdown run by sophomore back Robert Ennis Jr. He finished the game with 14 carries for 127 yards.
It was a back-and-forth game throughout, and Atlantic City answered with 9:39 left in the fourth quarter on a 11-yard touchdown run by Demond Cottman that put the Vikings back ahead 19-18.
Millville’s defense stepped up though in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, forcing the Vikings into a 3-and-out when a first down would have allowed Atlantic City to run out the clock.
“As a group, I definitely thought we could have played better in the first half,” Millville coach Jason Durham said. “Way too many penalties and mistakes. In the second half, I thought our intensity was better.”
Millville found the scoreboard first thanks to the opportunistic play of its defense.
Bolts safety Roberto Rivera forced Atlantic City wide receiver Tyshiek Wright to fumble on the Vikings’ first offensive play of the game with Bowman falling on the loose ball.
Just five plays later, Bowman took a wide receiver sweep into the end zone for 2-yard touchdown and 6-0 lead with 4 minutes, 36 seconds to play in the first quarter.
It was obvious it was opening night of the season, however.
Millville committed eight penalties for 72 yards in the first half and had trouble tackling at times, evidenced by Vikings running back Domaneek Brown-Hurd, who carried four times for 42 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown run that led to a 7-6 lead for Atlantic City with 2:38 to play in the first quarter.
The two sides then traded turnovers as the second quarter started with Vikings corner Dayshawn Reynolds picking off Sorrell with the Bolts threatening. Rivera would come up big again for the Bolts, though, intercepting McBride to change the momentum back in Millville’s favor.
The Bolts regained the lead on another Atlantic City mistake as Reynolds fumbled the snap on a punt attempt and was gobbled up by the Millville defense. After an illegal formation cost the Bolts five yards, Sorrell fired his first touchdown of the season, finding senior wide receiver Alskee Downing on a 21-yard strike down the right sideline with 1:41 left in the second quarter.
But Millville’s uncharacteristic lack of discipline cost it again before halftime. A pair of personal fouls paved the way for Brown-Hurd’s second touchdown of the game, a 3-yard run up the middle with 35 seconds left to give Atlantic City a 13-12 lead at intermission.