Tyreek Jackson admits to shedding a few tears, happy ones.
It was that kind of ending for the Clayton High School football team Friday night.
Hosting their first home playoff game in program history at Haupt Field, the Clippers held off Gloucester 16-12 in a South Jersey Group 1 first-round game. Jackson scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter and a 12-yard run in the second.
Donovan Allen and Devon Carr each contributed two-point conversion runs.
“We worked real hard all week in practice,” Jackson said. “For the community and our school, it was a good win.
“For the team, it felt real good and a bit overwhelming. For me personally, I had some tears of joy. I admit having a few tears come down. This is the end of my high school career and I dealt with some nagging injuries the last two years. It felt great to be where we were and to win as a family. It definitely means a lot to me.”
The No. 4 seed, Clayton (7-2) will get the chance to host a semifinal matchup, too. The Clippers will play No. 8 Glassboro, which knocked off top-seeded Salem. They’ve won three straight following a 20-6 regular-season loss to Gloucester on Oct. 23.
“The difference in this game was that we were more motivated this week,” Jackson said. “The first time we had some injuries. This time we were all on the same page.”
Tight one: The top seed in South Jersey Group 5, Lenape downed No. 8 Rancocas Valley for the second straight week. This one was a bit tighter as Joe Kellum’s 57-yard TD run in the third quarter would be the game’s lone touchdown.
Lenape (8-1) defeated the Red Devils 20-0 last week to clinch the West Jersey Football League Colonial Division title for the second straight season. It also secured the top seed for the playoffs.
It was the first playoff victory in six appearances.
“It’s tough to beat a team twice,” Lenape coach Tim McAneney said. “It’s the playoffs and all week we told the kids to just win and advance, and that’s what they did.
“They realized the school had never won a playoff game, so if they were to make history that needed to know the history. That weight is now done. Now we’re in the final four. Win and you get to Rowan.”
Lenape will host No. 4 Toms River North in the semifinals Friday.
Survival mode: Two-time defending South Jersey Group 5 champion Cherokee (7-2) nearly saw its chances of a three-peat disappear against No. 7 Millville.
The No. 2 Chiefs got a 35-yard TD strike from Jacob Bodine to Ryan Rickards with 1:05 left to pull ahead. They were then able to seal the outcome with a fumble recovery in the closing moments.
Johnathan Lovett led the ground attack with 138 yards on 27 carries, including a 59-yard TD run. Bodine threw for 177 yards.
The Thunderbolts were able to erase an 11-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter on a pair of TD passes from Will Polhamus to Marcial Ramos.
Cherokee will host No. 3 Williamstown (8-1) in the semifinals Friday but will do so without standout senior Evan Powell. The quarterback/linebacker suffered a fractured fibula in the second quarter and is done for the remainder of the season. The Chiefs handed the Braves their only loss, 20-0 back on Oct. 9.
“It was a weird play; a helmet to my leg,” said Powell, who made a verbal commitment Saturday to attend Monmouth. “It really hurt but I played three or four more plays. I just couldn’t push off. I sat the second half.
“It’s tough, not the way I wanted it to end. At least we won the game. Now I’ll just be a coach. I’ll do my best to help us win because that’s all I want.”
Collision course: Shawnee’s 29-0 victory over No. 7 Winslow Township in a South Jersey Group 4 game was its third shutout of the season and sixth straight win. The No. 2 Renegades will host No. 4 Bridgeton in Friday’s semifinals. The Bulldogs have won seven straight.
Kevin Minnick; (856) 486-2424; firstname.lastname@example.org