GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Mike Dolan, David Hood and the rest of the Absegami High School senior class made sure to make their final Thanksgiving Day football game a memorable one.
The Braves scored three touchdowns in the first six minutes of the game and cruised to an impressive 44-6 win against intra-district rival Oakcrest on Thursday.
Absegami won the Joe Mohr trophy with the win and now leads the all-time series between the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District members, 20-17. The late Mohr was the longtime athletic director at Oakcrest and also was athletic director of the long-closed Egg Harbor City High School.
Dolan let the Falcons' defense know it was in for a long day on Absegami's first possession.
Oakcrest did everything right and had Absegami facing third-and-20 less than two minutes into the game.
Dolan dropped back and was chased out of the pocket to his left. The senior captain eluded a pair of tacklers before coming back across the field.
Dolan found fellow senior Ryan Ganard streaking across the center of the field.
Ganard made the catch and won the race to the end zone for a 71-yard touchdown.
"This was the best four years of my life," Dolan said. "I still can't believe it's over. ... I'm sad it's over, but it was the best four years of my life."
Dolan ran for a 44-yard touchdown and Hood capitalized on a John Searight interception with an 8-yard score of his own as the Braves scored three touchdowns on three drives in just five minutes and 56 seconds.
"It was a great way to end it," said Hood, who has committed to play football at Temple University next season. "I couldn't ask for anything better than to get to play with these dudes.
"It was good to get a win playing with this senior class that I've been playing with the last four years. That turkey is going to taste good tonight."
Hood carried 16 times for 92 yards and two touchdowns. He scored a third touchdown on a 15-yard fumble return late in the second quarter that gave the Braves a 44-0 lead against a young Oakcrest team.
Oakcrest scored its only touchdown as Kendall Elliott threw a 29-yard strike to LaDarrell Dixon for Dixon's eighth receiving touchdown this season.
Hood finished his career with more than 3,000 yards of total offense and Dolan more than 2,500 yards passing.
The senior captains were pulled from the game to a nice ovation from the home crowd with five minutes left.
They hooked up one last time, however, filling up an ice cooler with water and dousing coach Dennis Scuderi in the game's final seconds on the cold November day.
"Cold," said an emotional Scuderi. "I'm getting a little choked up here. ... We battled through a lot this year and I'm glad we got them out of here at 5-5 and we were able to win this one. They'll remember it forever."
Seniors Maurice Hubbard and Ganard and junior Tyler Welch each caught touchdown passes. Hubbard also had an interception.
Senior Buck Amend had two interceptions.
"It's hard when you see kids leave, but the good part is we had a ton back here from last year's team and you get to see them," Scuderi said. "It's truly about being a family. That's what we're happy about and that's what Thanksgiving is about and it's a perfect way to go out."
Contact John O'Kane:
Oakcrest 0 0 0 6-6
Absegami 19 25 0 0-44
A-Ganard 71 pass from Dolan (Ganard kick)
A-Dolan 44 run (kick failed)
A-Hood 8 run (conversion failed)
A-Hubbard 13 run (conversion failed)
A-Welch 40 pass from Dolan (Ganard kick)
A-Hood 10 run (kick failed)
A-Hood 15 fumble return (kick failed)
O-Dixon 29 pass from Elliott (kick failed)
Team stats O A
Rushing 27 205
Passing 45 135
First downs 5 15
Turnovers 5 2
Penalties 3-20 8-55
Rushing- Oakcrest: Elliott 11-19, Smith 13-12; Absegami: Hood 16-92, Dolan 4-59, Hubbard 2-28, Henchy 2-24, Nelson 3-2.
Passing- Oakcrest: Elliott 6-11-45-4; Absegami: Dolan 7-9-135-0.
Receiving- Oakcrest: Dixon 2-41, Fleming 2-5, Smith 1-3; Absegami: Ganard 1-71, Hubbard 1-32, Nelson 1-20, Amend 1-13, Toth 1-5, Dolan 1-0, Hood 1-(-6)
Records- Oakcrest 2-8; Absegami 5-5.