MILLVILLE — Rob Ennis didn’t exactly share teammate Ed Shockley’s enthusiasm for the snowy conditions at Wheaton Field in Millville on Wednesday.
Shockley looked as if he was ready to play another game when it was over.
Ennis, meanwhile, was shivering as he talked following the game, just waiting for the chance to get inside to start thawing out.
Both were stellar when it counted.
Ennis ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns and Shockley was all over the field defensively as Millville High School beat Hammonton 20-14 in a Cape-Atlantic League football game. The win almost ensures the Thunderbolts (5-3) of a spot in the upcoming South Jersey Group V playoffs.
Ennis didn’t have much experience playing in snow prior to Wednesday’s game.
“This was my first time ever doing it so I was pretty excited,” Ennis said. “Then I actually got out here in it (in the second half) and said, ‘Man, I can’t wait for this 45 minutes or hour or whatever for it to be over.’ It got cold, man.”
Cold or not, the sophomore running back was at his best late in the third quarter.
Millville started with good field position and drove down the field trailing 14-12.
The Thunderbolts ran a stretch play to the right from Hammonton’s 14-yard line.
Ennis started right before somehow cutting back left, going across the grain and beating everyone to the end zone.
“Patience is key,” Ennis said. “I got the ball and there was only one linebacker to beat so I got around him and into the end zone.”
Ennis put the Thunderbolts on the board just 26 seconds into the game.
He broke free for 44 yards on the first play of the game and followed that up with a 3-yard touchdown run.
But the Blue Devils were in control for much of the rest of the half.
Hammonton back David Williams gave the team its first lead with a 46-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter.
Williams struck again in the second quarter with a 13-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Christian Mortellite.
Williams finished with 104 yards rushing on 13 carries but had just four carries for 17 yards after the half.
Shockley dominated play throughout.
The junior linebacker had nine solo tackles and was in on at least another handful.
“This is football weather,” Shockley said with a smile. “We love it.”
Millville coach Jason Durham asked Shockley and a number of the team’s leaders whether they thought they should play on Wednesday.
“We told him we wanted to play,” Shockley said. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was great football weather.”
Amazingly, Wednesday was Millville’s first home win this season.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
“This was a playoff game,” Shockley said. “There was nothing else but to win. It was the last home game for our seniors. We just wanted to play our hearts out for them.”
The Blue Devils had ran just eight plays in the second half before taking over with 3 minutes, 26 seconds left in the game, down 20-14.
A roughing-the-passer penalty on fourth-and-10 prolonged a 15-play drive that ended as the game’s final buzzer sounded with an incomplete pass from Mortellite.
Hammonton (4-4) is now on the outside looking in following the loss. The Blue Devils could still sneak into the No. 8 seed in South Jersey Group IV but will need help from other teams.
“They are tough,” Hammonton coach Pete Lancetta said. “Their coaching staff does a nice job as do the players. They did what they had to do.
“We had to win to get in just like they did. We were up against it and so were they but they made the plays.”
Contact John O’Kane:
Hammonton 7 7 0 0—14
Millville 6 6 8 0—20
M—Ennis 3 run (conversion failed)
H—Da. Williams 46 run (Siligato kick)
H—Da. Williams 13 pass by Mortellite (Siligato kick) M-Sorrell 1 run (conversion failed) THIRD QUARTER M-Ennis 14 run (conversion good)
Team stats H M
Rushing 167 266
Passing 50 55
First downs 9 19
Turnovers 0 1
Penalties 4-21 3-30
Rushing—Hammonton, Da. Williams 13-104, Do. Williams 8-42, Bevan 5-19, Mortellite 1-2; Millville, Ennis 27-178, Sorrell 7-45, McShan 6-36, Rivera 2-8, Bowman 3-0, Downing 1-(-1).
Passing—Hammonton, Mortellite 5-13-50-0; Millville: Sorrell 5-13-55-1.
Receiving—Hammonton, Padovani 1-21, Da. Williams 2-17, Porteons 1-14, Do. Williams 1-0; Millville: Bowman 2-35, Shockley 1-8, Hoover 1-7, Allen 1-5.
Records—Hammonton 4-4; Millville 5-3.