EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - The Atlantic City High School football team is like a boxer who possesses knockout power.
No matter how far behind that fighter might be on the scorecards, he's always only one big punch away from victory.
The Vikings scored a come-from-behind TKO over host Egg Harbor Township on Friday night. They spotted the Eagles a 14-0 lead before unleashing their big-play offense during a 34-28 victory in a Cape-Atlantic League American Conference game.
Four of Atlantic City's five touchdowns covered at least 75 yards.
"Every high school coach in America wants to run the ball and eat up the clock," Atlantic City coach Thomas Kelly said. "But when you've got home-run hitters, you've got to swing the bat every once in a while."
Wide receiver Dayshawn Reynolds batted cleanup for the Vikings. The senior speedster turned a pair of short passes from senior quarterback Jarren McBride into long touchdowns in the third quarter to help the Vikings gain control of a thrilling game.
Reynolds gave the Vikings a 20-14 lead, caught a quick pass on the right side on the third play of the third quarter, broke two tackles and then outran the Eagles' secondary for a 77-yard touchdown. On the next possession, he did the same thing on the other side of the field, again breaking away for a 75-yard TD that put the Vikings ahead 26-14.
Reynolds finished with six receptions for 212 yards.
"Some days are just going to be your days," Reynolds said. "I didn't have a great week last week (against Millville), but the coaches know what I can do and they really helped me build up my confidence tonight. I have to give a lot of the credit tonight to my blockers. They were the reason I was able to score those two touchdowns."
Reynolds' blocking helped set up another big TD.
Egg Harbor Township (1-1) started the game with touchdowns on its first two possessions. Eagles quarterback Ken Doughty capped an 80-yard drive with a 1-yard sneak into the end zone and then hit Gianni DiBabbo for a 19-yard TD to put them in front 14-0. EHT's band launched into the fight song while the Eagles' mascot did 14 pushups.
The celebration was short-lived. Less than a minute later, McBride used a block by Reynolds to dash up the left sideline for a 78-yard score that gave the Vikings some sorely needed momentum.
"We always knew we had a resilient bunch," Kelly said. "When we got down, it would have been real easy for us to turn tail and give up. But we talk to our kids all the time about bouncing back and that's what they did."
McBride, who also scored a 1-yard touchdown, rushed for 124 yards on nine carries and completed 9-of-13 passes for 286 yards and two TDs.
Not bad for someone who was a wide receiver and linebacker until late last season.
"I never played quarterback until last year's Thanksgiving game (against Holy Spirit)," McBride said. "I found out about two hours before kickoff that I was going in and the coaches thought I did well enough to keep me there for this season."
The Vikings (1-1) still had to withstand some scary moments, mostly due to their shaky special teams.
Egg Harbor Township blocked two punts. Eric Wiafe scooped up the second one in the fourth quarter and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown that cut the Eagles' deficit to six points with 5 minutes, 44 seconds left in regulation. When Atlantic City's next possession stalled at its 40-yard line, the Vikings attempted a fake punt and lost 11 yards.
That gave the Eagles a great opportunity to earn a win, but their rally ended when Atlantic City defensive back Tyshiek Wright grabbed an interception with 47.9 seconds to go.
"Atlantic City is a great football team," Eagles coach Tony DeRosa said. "We talked all week about their big-play potential and they still big-played us. But I'm proud of our kids for the way they kept fighting to the end. We had our opportunities but just didn't take advantage of them."
Contact David Weinberg:
Atlantic City 6 8 12 8-34
Egg Harbor Township 14 0 0 14-28
EHT- Doughty 1 run (Mason kick)
EHT-DiBabbo 19 pass from Doughty (Mason kick)
AC- McBride 78 run (Kick failed)
AC-McBride 1 run (Chandler pass from McBride)
AC-Reynolds 77 pass from McBride (Kick failed)
AC-Reynolds 75 pass from McBride (Pass failed)
EHT-Fitzpatrick 12 run (Mason kick)
AC-Santiago 78 pass from McBride (Wright pass from Prevard)
EHT-Wiafe 38 blocked punt return (Mason kick)
TEAM STATS AC EHT
FIRST DOWNS 11 13
RUSHING YARDS 105 193
PASSING YARDS 286 53
TURNOVERS 2 2
Rushing: Atlantic City, McBride 9-124, Brown-Hurd 9-6, Santiago 2-1, Reynolds 3-1, Wright 1-(-7), Glanville 1-(-11), Williams 1-(-11). EHT, Clayton 18-70, Fitzpatrick 15-66, Doughty 11-42, Smith 2-9, Canela 2-8.
Passing: Atlantic City, McBride 9-13-286. EHT, Doughty 4-11-53.
Receiving: Atlantic City, Reynolds 6-212, Santiago 1-78, Chandler 1-3. EHT, DiBabbo 1-19, Smith 2-27, Wilkes 1-7.
RECORDS-Atlantic City 1-1; Egg Harbor Township 1-1.