ABSECON - Dayshawn Reynolds knew he was playing for more than just himself Thursday morning.
Reynolds caught two second-quarter touchdown passes from Jarren McBryde as Atlantic City beat host Holy Spirit 13-7, winning for the first time in the past eight years in Atlantic County's oldest rivalry.
The Vikings improved to 49-31-4 in a series that dates back to 1926.
"I can't even describe ... it's undescribable," a beaming Reynolds said, moments after handing off the Boyd-Marczyk Trophy, which Holy Spirit had won for seven years in a row. "But it was a great, great win. A great day.
"We played for the ones that came before us, and we played for each other."
Holy Spirit-Atlantic City isn't just an old rivalry. It's intense because many of the players grew up together. McBryde, a senior, attended Spirit for two years before transferring to Atlantic City last year.
Thousands of fans packed the bleachers on both sides of the field. Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford said in a halftime radio interview that he had to park five blocks away.
Holy Spirit (6-4), ranked No. 10 in The Press Elite 11, dominated the early part of the game. Atlantic City (8-2), No. 7 in the Elite 11, managed just three first downs on its first four drives against the stingy Spirit defense.
The Spartans capitalized on a short field to get on the board first early in the second quarter. After taking over at the A.C. 30-yard line, Holy Spirit needed just five plays, with quarterback T.J. Anderson scoring on a 3-yard keeper.
Atlantic City scored both its touchdowns in the final 2 minutes, 32 seconds of the first half.
After a sack left the Vikings with third-and-goal from the 14-yard-line, McBryde threw it up into the left corner of the end zone, and the 6-foot-1 Reynolds beat the defender to come down with it.
Atlantic City forced a fumble on Spirit's next possession and drove 72 yards this time, with Reynolds scoring on a similar passing play, this one from 3 yards out with nine seconds left in the half.
"It's great when everybody in the stadium knows where the ball's going, and everybody on the defense knows where the ball's going, and we can still get it in there," Vikings coach Thomas Kelly said.
Reynolds finished with eight catches for 63 yards. He has nine TD catches this season.
"He's reliable," McBryde said. "He's always there when I need him. Just throw it up to him and he'll go get it."
McBryde finished 18-for-32 for 203 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He said the key was that the Vikings did not get discouraged by their slow start.
"We just had to stick to the game plan: Go out and throw the ball and execute," McBryde said.
After that, neither team got inside the opponent's 20-yard line until the final few minutes. Atlantic City got to the Spirit 5-yard line but turned it over on downs with 4:24 left.
But the Vikings forced Spirit to punt on the next possession, and Domaneek Brown-Hurd's first-down run with less than one minute left sealed it.
The Atlantic City players cheered as Kelly was presented with the Boyd-Marczyk Trophy, which is named after late coaches Stan Marczyk of Holy Spirit and John Boyd of Atlantic City.
"The Holy Spirit-Atlantic City High School game, no matter what the score is, it's something that these kids are going to remember forever," Kelly said afterward. "We have a special group and I just wanted them to have a positive memory about this game."
Neither team is done, though. Atlantic City travels to top-seeded Williamstown next Friday for a South Jersey Group V semifinal game. The Vikings are seeded fourth. Williamstown will be the new No. 1 team in The Press Elite 11.
"Winning this and moving on," Reynolds said, "that could be a lot, a lot of confidence."
Holy Spirit, meanwhile, will host Pingry in a state Non-Public II semifinal next Friday. The Spartans are the No. 2 seed and Pingry No. 6.
"They're 18-year-old kids," Spirit coach John Iannucci said. "They can revive quickly. We'll be back."
Iannucci is in his first year at Holy Spirit, which is the ninth school where he has coached.
"I'm new to it, but apparently it means a lot," he said. "Great crowd. The kids were into it. It's a great rivalry. It's two playoff teams going against each other in a close game."
Contact Jason Mazda:
Atlantic City 0 13 0 0-13
Holy Spirit 0 7 0 0-7
HS-Anderson 3 run (Rifici kick)
AC-Reynolds 14 pass from McBryde (McBryde kick)
AC-Reynolds 3 pass from McBryde (kick blocked)
TEAM STATISTICS AC HS
Rushing yards 73 109
Passing yards 203 22
First downs 15 7
Penalties-yards 3-18 4-40
Turnovers 2 3
Rushing-Atlantic City, Cottman 2-1, McBryde 13-44, Wright 2-11, Brown-Hurd 8-17. Holy Spirit, Anderson 16-48, Gerald 9-15, Rifici 2-12, Dennis 6-29, Dawson 1-4, DiBuonaventura 1-1.
Passing-Atlantic City, McBryde 18-32-2-203. Holy Spirit, Anderson 1-5-0-22, Rifici 0-1-1-0.
Receiving-Atlantic City, Wright 4-76, Graves 1-5, Cottman 5-59, Reynolds 8-63. Holy Spirit, name unavailable 1-22.
RECORDS-Atlantic City 8-2, Holy Spirit 6-4.