OCEAN CITY - The Pleasantville High School football team engineered an improbable 83-yard march with under four minutes left and pulled out a dramatic 15-14 win over Ocean City in their annual Thanksgiving Day game on Thursday.
Greyhounds quarterback Che'quan Hargrose fired a 9-yard touchdown pass to Mike Foster over the middle with 20 seconds remaining to tie it. Kicker LaQuay Bishop was perfect with the extra point, and Pleasantville got the win.
Hargrose, a 6-foot-3 junior, has been the Greyhounds quarterback since his freshman year.
"It feels great to win it," Hargrose, 16, said. "Both of the last two years we lost to them, and it was hurtful. We were a young team, but now we have more experience. Next year, we want to go to the playoffs."
The comeback win capped what seemed like a turnaround season for the 3-7 Greyhounds. Pleasantville broke a 35-game losing streak on Oct. 4 with a 35-12 win over Lower Cape May Regional and beat Riverside 56-12 in a consolation game on Nov. 15.
The Pleasantville win also broke a six-game winning streak by the Red Raiders in the annual game. O.C. holds a 46-41-6 edge in the series, which began in 1917. The Greyhounds claimed the Mike Slaveski-Bob Thomas Memorial Award, which is named after deceased coaches Slaveski (Ocean City) and Thomas (Pleasantville).
"The victories (this season) justify the effort by the program," Pleasantville coach David Dudley said. "In my three years as coach we were 0-20 the first two years and now 3-7. That's not a championship, but it's growth.
"The win is big for me. In 1992 and 1993 I was on back-to-back South Jersey Group III championship teams playing at Egg Harbor Township, but we lost to Ocean City both years."
Bishop, a sophomore, said he wasn't nervous before the kick.
"The coaches said to keep your head down and go through the ball, and I did," Bishop, 15, said.
Ocean City, which started at 0-4 but won four of its next five games, finished at 4-6.
"We just left too many opportunities on the field, and let them hang around," Ocean City coach Kevin Smith said. "Pleasantville had a great drive at the end and my hat's off to them."
Ocean City, led by running back Frank Woolley (146 yards on 27 carries), appeared likely to hold on to the 14-8 lead it held since early in the second quarter. Pleasantville's first score was an 80-yard kickoff return by Foster, and the Greyhounds' offense did little for most of the second half.
But Pleasantville, with the wind in the fourth quarter, looked unstoppable in the final 11-play drive. Foster, who played running back most of the day, gained 18 yards to the 35. Hargrose passed to Ronnell Moore for 7 yards, and the quarterback got 5 yards and a first down on a keeper to the 47.
A pass to Zayd Smith got 13 yards to the O.C. 40-yard line, and Hargrose hit Foster for 12 more yards to the 28.
After an offsides penalty against Pleasantville, the final three plays were passes to Foster for 5, 19 and finally 9 yards.
"Our goal was to get to the fourth quarter with the wind and be within a touchdown," Dudley said. "(The TD pass) was a great call by Joe Wilson, our offensive coordinator, and an even better read by our quarterback. Foster was playing tight end on the play, and he was the third receiver."
Despite a bad ankle, Woolley, a senior, finished the season with 1,166 yards on 223 carries and 11 touchdowns.
Last in the first quarter, Woolley burst up the middle from his own 45-yard line and cut to the left sideline for a 55-yard touchdown. Joe Stadnicki's kick made it 7-0.
But Foster took the ensuing kickoff up the right sideline 80 yards for a score. Hargrose passed to the right to Thomas Becker for two points and an 8-7 Pleasantville lead.
"I got a great block from Khris Downing, and then I saw the hole open up," said Foster, an 18-year-old senior.
The Red Raiders got back up on Woolley's 2-yard touchdown run off left guard. The play was set up by a 65-yard pass from O.C. quarterback Josh Tibbits to wide receiver Dylan Fahy to the 15-yard line.
Contact Guy Gargan:
Pleasantville 8 0 0 7-15
Ocean City 7 7 0 0-14
OC-Woolley 55 run (Stadnicki kick)
P-Foster 80 kickoff return (Becker pass from Hargrose)
OC-Woolley 2 run (Stadnicki kick)
P-Foster 9 pass from Hargrose (Bishop kick)
First downs 8 10
Rushing 40 168
Passing 116 70
Turnovers 1 2
Rushing-P-Foster 10-43, Hargrose 3--3, Moore 1-0. OC-Woolley 27-146, Jones 4-31, Weisner 1-0, Naplacic 3-11, Tibbits 2-20, Keyes 3-16.
Passing-P-Hargrose 10-23-1-116. OC-Tibbits 1-4-1-65, Keyes 1-3-0-5.
Receiving-P-Foster 6-65, Moore 2-33, Becker 1-5, Smith 1-3. OC-Fahy 1-65, Woolley 1-5.
Records-Pleasantville 3-7, O.C. 4-6.