MILLVILLE - If Millville High School running back Alquann Jones was a car, he'd get about 100 miles to a gallon.
The senior was a study in stamina and excellence for the Thunderbolts on Friday night. Jones rushed for a whopping 246 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries and grabbed an interception on defense to lead second-seeded Millville to a 19-0 victory over seventh-seeded Rancocas Valley in the quarterfinals of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs.
Millville, the No. 3 team in The Press Elite 11, achieved a few milestones. The Thunderbolts earned their first playoff victory since 1998 and improved to 9-0 for the first time since Bubba Green and Calvin Murray led the 1975 team to an 11-0 record and their only sectional championship.
"This was a really big win for all of the seniors," Jones said. "This is our last year and we want to make sure we go our with a bang."
The Thunderbolts will try to keep their playoff run alive next Friday night when they host sixth-seeded Washington Township. The Minutemen advanced with a 42-23 upset of No. 3 Williamstown.
Millville earned its victory before a roaring crowd at Wheaton Field. The home bleachers were crammed with fans clad in the school colors of blue and orange and hundreds more lined up along the fence on either side of the stands.
Such crowds are usually reserved for Millville's annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry against Vineland.
"It was electric out here tonight," Millville coach Jason Durham said. "The fans, the band, everyone really got behind the players. It was great."
Jones treated them to a special performance. Helped by an outstanding effort by his offensive line, the 5-foot-8, 164-pounder ran through and around Rancocas Valley defenders on almost every carry and even leapt over some Red Devils (6-3) to set up one of his touchdowns.
He finished the game with 1,779 rushing yards for the season, breaking the school's single-season record of 1,536 set by Terrance Williams in 1997.
"I did get a little tired toward the end of the game," Jones said with a smile. "I was bent over a couple of times, but I just told myself I had to suck it up and keep going."
Despite Jones' exploits, however, it took a while for the Thunderbolts' offense to get rolling. They finally broke a scoreless tie midway through the second quarter, when Jones' 37-yard run behind a crunching block by guard Tyler Gandy led to quarterback Shaq Lee's 1-yard sneak into the end zone with 6 minutes, 51 seconds left in the first half.
The Thunderbolts also reached Rancocas Valley's 5-yard line on two other series but failed to capitalize on the opportunities, thereby giving the Red Devils some hope. But Millville's defense came through with an outstanding effort.
Senior defensive lineman Norval Powell provided constant pressure on Red Devils quarterback Dylan Finelli. Finelli completed 9-of- 20 passes for 117 yards and threw two interceptions, to Millville junior safety Rashon Sorrell and Jones, respectively, and was sacked three times.
"We got off to a slow start, but we've always been known as a second-half team," Sorrell said. "We knew we had to step it up."
Millville put the game away in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns in a span of 2:14. Jones upped the lead to 12-0 on a 2-yard plunge and Millville junior DeQuan Bowman then recovered a kickoff that caromed off a Rancocas Valley player. After Sorrell broke loose for a 31-yard gain, Jones added a 1-yard TD with 7:56 left in regulation.
"We always do a better job after halftime," Jones said. "Coach Durham told us that it was time to show Rancocas Valley how we play football and that's what we did."
Contact David Weinberg:
Rancocas Valley 0 0 0 0-0
Millville 0 6 0 13-19
M - Lee 1 run. (Kick failed)
M - Jones 2 run. (Pass failed)
M - Jones 1 run. (Price kick)
TEAM STATS RV M
First Downs 5 22
Rushing Yards 44 330
Passing Yards 117 92
Turnovers 2 1
Rushing-Rancocas Valley, Jones 10-36, Risley 4-25, White 2-(-4), Finielli 3-(-13). Millville, Jones 40-246, Lee 9-28, Enins 5-26, Sorrell 3-20, Bowman 3-10.
Passing-Rancocas Valley, Finelli 9-20-117-2. Millville, Lee 5-13-92-1.
Receiving-Rancocas Valley, Wilson 4-102, White 2-8, Ijalana 2-7. Millville, Bowman 2-64, Sorrell 2-28, McShan 1-7.
RECORDS-Rancocas Valley 6-3; Millville 9-0.