BARNEGAT TOWNSHIP - The Bridgeton High School football team needed a play Friday night.
Cappadonna Miller delivered - over and over again.
The sophomore was stellar on both sides of the ball in leading the sixth-seeded Bulldogs to an improbable, come-from-behind 18-17 win against third-seeded Barnegat in a South Jersey Group III quarterfinal game.
The Bulldogs will play at second-seeded Delsea Regional at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 in a semifinal game.
Barnegat led 17-0 late in the first half.
Bridgeton coach Dave Ellen told his team after the game that the win was perhaps the biggest in his 25 years as head coach of the team.
"In a playoff game to be down like that and then come back - it's a character game," Ellen said. "That's what I'm more proud about - the way the kids stepped up and the way that is going to affect them, not just in football, but in their lives that they can come back from that stuff. That's fantastic."
A Barnegat drive late in the third quarter stalled, forcing the Bengals to punt the ball away.
Miller caught the punt at his 25-yard line with a host of Barnegat tacklers barreling down on him.
The first tackler knocked Miller backward and nearly took him down.
He juked the next two defenders before bouncing left.
"At first when I broke the first tackle I thought I was going to get tackled because I had slipped, but I caught my balance," Miller said. "It was great blocking. When I got to the outside I saw two Barnegat kids coming and I just saw two white jerseys hit them."
He outran everyone on the field for a 75-yard return to give Bridgeton the 18-17 lead.
"He's fun to watch," Ellen said. "He really is. He is fun to watch. He is 5-foot nothing, 100 and nothing but he would step in front of a freight train.
"He is hard to bring down. They whiff on him. They looked like they had him five times on that punt and he's still going. He's relentless. Love that kid. Just unreal."
Barnegat badly needed to bounce back with a good drive. But Miller intercepted the first pass Barnegat quarterback Cinjun Erskine threw.
Miller finished with four catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. He had three interceptions, a fumble recovery and the 75-yard punt return.
"Nobody expected us to win and we came out and we won," Miller said. "At first I thought we were going to lose because we had two turnovers in the first half. We weren't executing well.
"The coaches talked to us at halftime and told us to step it up and we did."
Miller actually had an interception on the first play following a touchdown twice on Friday. He intercepted Erskine following following Stefon Bowman's 2-yard touchdown run with 20 seconds left in the first half.
Ellen and the Bulldogs installed a trick play in practice this week and it paid instant dividends. Quarterback Ronald Williams took a quick drop before firing a lateral to wide receiver Nazir Williams.
Williams pulled up before crossing the line of scrimmage and found Miller down the sideline for a 53-yard touchdown.
Erskine completed six passes for 87 yards and ran for 49 yards and a touchdown. Barnegat running back A.J. Opre ran for 132 yards and a touchdown. Pat Moran made a 30-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Bridgeton's Bowman ran for 71 yards and a touchdown and had two catches for 25 yards. Williams threw for 143 yards.
NOTES: Bridgeton dressed only 23 players for Friday's game with two seniors. …Barnegat had six turnovers, Bridgeton had two, including one on the game's opening kickoff.
Contact John O'Kane:
Bridgeton 0 6 12 0-18
Barnegat 10 7 0 0-17
BA-Moran 30 field goal
BA-Erskine 1 run (Moran kick)
BA-Opre 7 run (Moran kick)
BR-Bowman 2 run (kick blocked)
BR-Miller 53 pass by N. Williams (conversion failed)
BR-Miller 75 punt return (conversion failed)
Team stats BR BA
Rushing 82 181
Passing 195 87
First downs 12 16
Penalties 4-25 2-7
Turnovers 2 6
Rushing-Bridgeton: Bowman 21-71, R. Williams 9-14, Miller 9-0, Sulton 1-(-3); Barnegat: Opre 23-132, Erskine 12-49.
Passing-Bridgeton: R. Williams 7-13-142-0, N. Williams 1-1-53-0; Barnegat: Erskine 6-10-87-3.
Receiving-Bridgeton: Miller 4-143, N. Williams 2-27, Bowman 2-25; Barnegat: Knierim 1-43, Moran 4-39, Young 1-5.
Records-Bridgeton 6-4; Barnegat 4-5.
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