PLEASANTVILLE - Pleasantville High School's football team fell agonizingly short of ending its long losing streak Friday night.
Vineland sent the host Greyhounds to their 34 consecutive loss with a 28-21 overtime victory in a thrilling Cape-Atlantic League game.
Fighting Clan freshman fullback Daivon Seymore scored the winning points on its first possession of overtime with a 25-yard touchdown run on the second play. Junior wide receiver Jeremiah Atoki helped Seymore reach the end zone with a punishing block at the 5-yard line. Seymore rushed for 143 yards on 14 carries.
"I didn't know if I'd be able to score on that play, but I was just hoping everything would go my way," Seymore said.
The win was the first for first-year Vineland coach Dan Russo.
Those Pleasantville kids, they're fighters," Russo said. "They've really improved. Their coach has done an excellent job. I feel lucky to come out of this with a win, very fortunate."
While Vineland celebrated at midfield, Pleasantville was also treated to an ovation from its fans for a valient effort. The Greyhounds, who haven't won since they beat Lower Cape May Regional on Nov. 7, 2009, had a chance to extend overtime but a fourth-down pass was intercepted.
Vineland, which had two touchdowns called back by penalties, had a shot at winning in regulation, but a 30-yard field goal sailed wide right with 56 seconds remaining.
The Greyhounds also had a shot after junior wide receiver Amir Inman brought the crowd to its feet by turning a short pass from quarterback Michael Foster into a 52-yard gain to Vineland's 22-yard line, but four passes fell incomplete.
The Greyhounds scored two defensive touchdowns via interception returns by Ronnell Moore and Zayd Smith, respectively.
Moore, a senior cornerback, opened the scoring when he grabbed a Vineland pass and raced 55 yards up the left sideline to put them ahead 7-0 with 2:33 left in the first quarter. Senior linebacker Michael Foster provided a big block on the play, taking out two Vineland players at the 10-yard line to provide Moore with a clear path to the end zone.
Smith, a senior defensive back, opened the third quarter with a serpentine, 75-yard interception return. Vineland, which had a touchdown erased by a penalty earlier in the drive, threw a third-down pass that Smith snared at his own 25-yard line. He used a series of blocks by teammates while weaving his way through the Fighting Clan's offense to the end zone to put the Greyhounds ahead 21-7.
An enthusiastic Pleasantville crowd started screaming, cheering and stomping on the bleachers in anticipation of seeing the losing streak finally end.
Vineland calmly and quickly answered back, however. Senior running back Benjamin Anderson cut the Greyhounds' lead to 21-14 on a 16-yard touchdown run with 7:28 left in the third quarter. Anderson, who rushed for 151 yards on 11 carries, tied it at 21-21 on a 24-yard touchdown run with 10:21 left in regulation.
"I'd like to give credit to our team for the way they came back, " Russo said. "We were down 21-7 and fought our way back into it. I've got great kids, tough kids. It feels great to get the win."
Pleasantville led 14-7 at halftime.
After Moore's return opened the scoring, Greyhounds running back Kendelle Williams came off the bench to provide Pleasantville's second first-half TD. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder burst into Vineland's secondary, evaded three Fighting Clan defenders with a nifty spin move reminiscent of Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, then bulled into the end zone with two Vineland players on his back with 2:01 left in the first half.
Seymore scored Vineland's only first-half touchdown with his own impressive moves. The 6-1, 215-pound freshman appeared trapped in the backfield, but wriggled free of two Pleasantville defenders, then sprinted up the right sideline for a 67-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Both defenses dominated most of the first half.
Pleasantville's unit forced three turnovers. In addition to Moore's interception, they forced two fumbles. Junior defensive lineman Phoroah Whitted spent most of the first two quarters in Vineland's backfield.
Vineland countered with two interceptions by junior safety Jeremiah Atoki and senior cornerback Joshua Rivera, respectively. Senior defensive tackle Adrian Rodriguez, 5-10 and 275 pounds, controlled the trenches for the Fighting Clan.
"I feel like we've already turned the corner," Pleasantville coach David Dudley said. "We're competitive now. Last year we were getting beat up and blown out, but that's not the case this year. Every team that steps on the field with us this year will understand that they have to play football. I thought our kids showed good character out there tonight, but we just didn't come through at the end. We just have to learn how to close teams out when we get a chance."
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