MILLVILLE - Shaq Lee scoffed at the notion that his Millville High School football team could have had trouble getting excited for a Thanksgiving Day game against Vineland, with a South Jersey championship game looming next week.
"No, no, no," the senior quarterback said. "This is like a playoff game to us. It's a big rivalry, and we came out here ready to play."
Lee threw a touchdown pass on Millville's first possession, Alquann Jones broke the Cape-Atlantic League single-season rushing record, and the Thunderbolts rolled to a 34-0 victory Thursday.
Millville (11-0), No. 3 in The Press Elite 11, goes into next Friday's South Jersey Group IV final against No. 6 Pennsauken healthy and on a roll after closing the gap in one of the nation's oldest rivalries. Vineland (3-7) still leads 63-58-19 in the series, which dates back to 1893.
"It was a perfect effort by our guys," Millville coach Jason Durham said. "They worked really hard.
"The rivalry game means a lot to both towns and our players. They understood it coming in, and they did a great job focusing on it."
Jones, a senior, came into the game needing 25 yards to break the CAL single-season record of 2,060 set by Holy Spirit's William Washington in 2007.
On the game's first two plays from scrimmage, he broke free for runs of 18 yards apiece. He finished with 85 yards rushing despite sitting out for most of the second half, so the record stands at 2,120 with one game remaining.
"(Teammates) were asking me, 'How do you feel?'" Jones said, "and I said, 'I feel the same way I was feeling all year. You all did this for me. I didn't do this.' It's just a great feeling, though."
Jones also scored his 25th and 26th touchdowns of the season, tying and then breaking the school record set by Phil Jackson in 1957.
But Millville's first touchdown, a 27-yard strike down the left sideline from Lee to wide receiver Alskee Downing, was the most special for Jones.
Downing, a junior, is Jones' younger brother, and it was his first varsity TD.
"Tears started coming down my eyes," Jones said, "because he's always there, like, 'I'll block for you. I'll do anything I can for you to score as long as we win.' So I was just happy."
Lee completed 3-of-7 passes for 93 yards with no interceptions.
The Millville defense was superb, allowing just 60 yards until Vineland's final drive. Ed Shockley returned an interception for a touchdown, and Tyler Gandy and Josh Serra also had picks. Antoine White recovered a fumble.
With the Thunderbolts' starters out of the game in the fourth quarter, the Fighting Clan drove from their own 9-yard line to the Millville 39, but Serra's interception with 1 minute, 29 seconds left ended it.
"When they started marching on us when we put the second team in, I was kind of upset, because I was like, I want to keep this (shutout) going two years in a row," Jones said, referring to Millville's 28-0 win last season. "It was good to get the (shutout)."
Vineland coach Josh Hedgeman knew coming into the game that his rebuilding team faced a tough challenge, but he embraced it.
"We don't want to play a Millville that's struggling," Hedgeman said. "We want to be able to beat a Millville that's on top, to prove ourselves.
"All we can control is what we do within our program. We had some set goals today. Some of them we made today, (including) making sure we played 48 minutes of football, hard football, as hard as we can."
However, Hedgeman said, Millville is "as good as advertised."
The Thunderbolts will play Pennsauken at 7 p.m. next Friday at Rowan University.
"Man, we're looking forward to a win," Jones said. "We're going to pray for it. We're going to work hard for it. We're going to do everything we can do to bring the championship home."
Contact Jason Mazda:
Vineland 0 0 0 0-0
Millville 14 13 7 0-0
M-Downing 27 pass from Lee (Price kick)
M-Bowman 62 punt return (Price kick)
M-Jones 7 run (kick failed)
M-Shockley 16 interception return (Price kick) THIRD QUARTER M-Jones 7 run (kick)
TEAM STATISTICS V M
Rushing yards 108 138
Passing yards 4 93
First downs 11 6
Penalties 3-15 1-13
Turnovers 4 0
Rushing-Vineland, Morgan 7-27, Nelson 12-66, Spencer 7-21, Rodriguez 3-(-6). Millville, Jones 12-85, Sorrell 2-22, Holden 6-13, Ennis 2-10, Bowman 1-9, McShan 1-6, Lee 5-(-7).
Passing-Vineland, Rodriguez 3-9-4-3. Millville, Lee 3-7-93-0.
Receiving-Vineland, Spencer 3-4. Millville, Downing 1-27, Boyer 1-36, Sorrell 1-30.
RECORDS-Vineland 3-7, Millville 11-0.