Cedar Creek easily defeats Willingboro to advance to first South Jersey final
EGG HARBOR CITY - Damon Mitchell has thrown plenty of touchdown passes this season.
The Cedar Creek High School senior quarterback took his turn catching one Saturday.
Mitchell took the snap from center Chris Lynch and pitched to running back Gary Melton going right.
Melton casually flipped the ball to wide receiver Nolan Seward coming in the opposite direction.
With Willingboro defenders struggling to figure out where the ball was, Seward stopped and threw back to a wide-open Mitchell for a 9-yard touchdown as the buzzer sounded at the end of the first half.
The second-seeded Pirates could do no wrong in Saturday's South Jersey Group II final, beating Willingboro 41-3 to advance to next week's sectional final at Rowan University.
Cedar Creek will play defending champ West Deptford at 1 p.m. Saturday.
West Deptford (11-0), No. 5 in The Press Elite 11, is a perennial power and brings a 20-game winning streak into the final.
"We're real fired up," said Melton, who scored four touchdowns on Saturday. "We always heard that West Deptford was running things in Group II, so to speak. They have a great team, but we're going to get after it and I hope they're ready for it."
The drive that ended with Mitchell's touchdown catch started at Cedar Creek's 9-yard-line with just 59 seconds left in the first half.
A 35-yard Mitchell pass to Melton and a 31-yarder to Seward set up the Pirates deep in Willingboro territory. But the Chimeras forced Cedar Creek into a fourth-and-9 with four seconds left.
Cedar Creek coach Tim Watson and offensive coordinator Mike Isgro dialed up a play that went for a touchdown in a loss at Orange late last season.
"We've been waiting for the right time to break that out," Watson said. "I trust Mike (Isgro) fully. That was one we've been waiting to use.
"(Isgro) has been impeccable with his timing and that was a great call at that time."
Watson said he kids Mitchell about Seward's quarterbacking stats.
"His QB efficiency is a lot better than (Mitchell's)," Watson said. "He's 2-for-2 with two touchdowns."
Melton ran for 76 yards and three touchdowns and caught five passes for 125 yards and another score.
"It's about how we respond to situations," Melton said. "I always tell people that the team that wins the Super Bowl is not always necessarily the best team, but it's the team that always responds. We respond really good at this school."
The Pirates' prolific offense averages 40.3 per game this season and has playmakers all over the field.
"It's the athletes I have surrounding me," Mitchell said. "When the O-line does their thing and holds what they've got to do up front, it's pretty much a throw-and-catch and good luck to the defender."
Mitchell's two touchdown passes Saturday give him 21 this season. He also had an interception on defense. Lasana Toure had two interceptions.
Willingboro running back Robert Cleveland had 135 rushing yards.
The sectional final will be the first time all season that the Pirates have been considered underdogs.
West Deptford is playing for its ninth sectional title in school history and is looking for its sixth title.
"I think that's what you want though," Watson said. "We're playing against the best in Group II, period. …We're excited. We've talked about one game at a time and here we are now. We're in the (championship). We've got to play four more quarters of tough football; Pirate football. My boys will be ready."
Contact John O'Kane:
Willingboro 3 0 0 0-3
Cedar Creek 6 14 14 7-41
W-Lynch 26 field goal
CC-Melton 25 pass by Mitchell (conversion failed)
CC-Melton 3 run (conversion failed)
CC-Mitchell 9 pass by Seward (conversion good)
CC-Melton 24 run (Kruger kick)
CC-Graves 34 pass by Mitchell (Kruger kick)
CC-Melton 35 run (Kruger kick)
Team stats W CC
Rushing 165 96
Passing 30 228
First downs 8 12
Penalties 2-9 5-21
Turnovers 3 1
Rushing-Willingboro: Cleveland 26-135, Brown 4-22, Bradshaw 4-12, Jones 1-1, Robbins 4-(-5); Cedar Creek: Melton 13-76, Mitchell 8-19, Pauls 1-3, Carter 1-2, Willis 2-2, Riek 1-(-6).
Passing-Willingboro: Robbins 5-14-30-2; Cedar Creek: Mitchell 12-19-219-0, Seward 1-1-9-0.
Receiving-Willingboro: Sams 3-22, Barrett 1-6, Pernell 1-2; Cedar Creek: Melton 5-125, Seward 2-45, Graves 4-44, Mitchell 1-9, McFadden 1-5.
Records-Willingboro 6-5; Cedar Creek 10-1.