After an opportunity to change the complexion of the game literally slipped through his hands, Elijah Williams used his legs to shift momentum with a tide-turning play that propelled the Colonia High School football team to a 35-7 season-opening victory over J.F. Kennedy on Friday night.
With his team clinging to a 13-0 lead late in the second quarter, Williams, who stars as a defensive back and return specialist, dropped a sure interception in the corner of the end.
On the next play, Terrance Young made a spectacular over-the-shoulder 28-yard touchdown catch, helping the Mustangs close the deficit to six points with 11 seconds left in the first half.
Williams, sensing a palpable shift of energy to the home crowd at Louis M. Bartha Stadium, wasted little time getting redemption as he returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a back-breaking touchdown.
“Once I dropped the pick and I realized they scored that just got me mad because if I would have caught the pick they would have never scored,” Williams explained. “So I just took that anger out on the kick return. I felt our crowd dying down after (Young’s reception). I just had to break it open to get our crowd back in the game.”
Despite being outgained 158 to 105 in total offense before intermission, Colonia owned a 21-7 advantage at the half, largely because it used good field position (drives began at the J.F. Kennedy 47- and 38-yard lines) to score on its first two possessions.
Junior quarterback Tenni Adewusi , making his first career start and displaying the athleticism of predecessor Trent Barneys, turned a busted pass play into a 38-yard touchdown run on Colonia’s first series.
He connected with Barneys’ younger brother, Bryce, a sophomore receiver, for a 12-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing drive.
Unlike the first half, during which he completed 4 of 7 passes with an interception, Adewusi kept it simple after the intermission, handing off to junior running back Sam Pero 15 times.
Pero gained 112 of his 161 rushing yards in the second half. He scored on runs of 1 and 38 yards to produce the final margin. Pero’s first scoring jaunt capped a 60-yard drive which Anthony Nystrom set up with a fumble recovery.
“We just decided at halftime we were going to run Sam and run Tenni and just go straight ahead,” said Colonia head coach Tom Roarty, who bested J.F. Kennedy’s Andrew Maurizio in a battle of first-year mentors.
“After going up 13-0 we kind of just, I think, did a little too much fooling around. We figured if we could put one more (score) up on the board we would be alright.”
Pero’s first touchdown, which came late in the third quarter, put the game out of reach for J.F. Kennedy, a run-oriented team not designed to play catch up.
J.F. Kennedy running back Anthony Roberts carried 29 times for 168 yards. The Mustangs employed a zone blocking scheme which allowed the shifty Roberts to read his way through the line of scrimmage.
With the exception of those long touchdown runs from Pero and Adewusi, J.F. Kennedy played solid against the run.
“They were very tough defensively,” Roarty said. “We thought we could do a lot more than what we did. J.F. Kennedy was doing a great job getting in the backfield, kind of slowing us up.”
Pero, who carried just five times in the first half, said, “The line picked it up in the second half and we did something new; we left two guys on the outside instead of one, so that opened up more holes. The downfield blocking was great and I just hit the holes.”
|J.F. Kennedy (0-1)||0||7||0||0||—||7|
C – Adewusi 35 run (Ribeiro kick).
C – B. Barneys 12 pass from Adewusi (kick failed).
K – Young 28 pass from And. Roberts (Williams kick).
C – Williams 80 kickoff return (Napolean pass from Adewusi).
C – Pero 1 run (Ribeiro kick).
C – Pero 38 run (Ribeiro kick).
RUSHING: C – Pero 23-161, Adewusi 11-67, Manning 2-6, Lauderdale 1-5, Mizak 1-minus 4; K – Ant. Roberts 29-168, And. Roberts 8-minus 18, King 4-5, Williams 1-6.
PASSING: C – Adewusi 6-9-1-25; K – And. Roberts 2-8-1-31.
RECIEVING: C – B. Barneys 3-15, Napolean 3-10; K – Young 1-28, Wood 1-3.