FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP - Bridgeton High School had the ball in the final minutes of a 55-12 loss to Delsea Regional in a South Jersey Group II football semifinal Friday.
Top-seeded Delsea (10-0), No. 2 in The Press' Elite 11, had just taken a knee rather than attempt an extra point. The mercy-rule running clock was still in effect. Fifth-seeded Bridgeton (7-4) had dressed only 23 players for the game and was exhausted.
But Bulldogs senior Mike Cisrow was still running.
Cisrow gained 31 of his 174 rushing yards on the final possession of the game.
"I made a promise to my teammates before the game that I would give them all I had," said the running back, who kept breaking tackles and stiff-arming defenders even on his final carry, which he took 23 yards before being pushed out of bounds.
All Cisrow had was almost enough to keep up with host Delsea for about 15 minutes. He scored the Bulldogs' only two touchdowns of the game in the first quarter as the teams traded scores. Bridgeton trailed 14-12 after the first quarter.
"We were giving it our all," said sophomore quarterback Tamar Jackson, who threw for 93 yards and also played defensive back, punter and kicker.
But Delsea's depth proved to be too much as the Crusaders pulled away. Austin Medley (141 yards), Sean McPherson (113) and Dylan Wilton (92) each ran for touchdowns as Delsea rushed for 432 yards.
"You could tell that we were starting to get tired," Cisrow said. "They play teams close in the first quarter and just pull away."
The Crusaders outscored the Bulldogs 21-0 in the second quarter, with Medley and McPherson taking turns gashing through a tiring Bridgeton defense.
"That helps (having more substitutes)," Bridgeton coach Dave Ellen said. "You get gassed pretty quick."
Bridgeton was shorthanded due to injuries and several players leaving the team during the season. Star receiver Kyheem Simpson, one of just four seniors on the Bulldogs' roster, missed the game with an injured shoulder. Seven sophomores started.
"Bridgeton is a feisty team," Delsea coach Sal Marchese said. "When you come out with (23) players, to play like they did, they weren't intimidated at all. They played tough football till the end."
Delsea moves on to face third-seeded Haddonfield in the sectional final next weekend. Haddonfield upset second-seeded West Deptford 15-13 on Friday.
Jackson said he would have liked to face Delsea with a full team.
"If we had our original squad, we could have beat them," Jackson said.
Despite the frustration, Bridgeton, led by Cisrow, never stopped playing hard.
"He's a quiet kid. He just wants the ball," Ellen said. "He'll take it 50 times a game."
Cisrow said this might have been his last football game ever. But Ellen said several colleges at various levels have contacted the senior, who finished with 1,747 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
"To me, he's a college football player," Ellen said. "No question about it."
Contact Jason Mazda:
Bridgeton 12 0 0 0 - 12
Delsea Regional 14 21 7 13 - 55
DR-McPherson 37 run (Frejomil kick)
B-Cisrow 4 run (kick failed)
DR-Wilton 62 run (Frejomil kick)
B-Cisrow 35 run (conversion failed)
DR-Medley 1 run (Frejomil kick)
DR-McPherson 29 run (Frejomil kick)
DR-Convery 39 pass from Jackson (Frejomil kick)
DR-Medley 1 run (Frejomil kick)
DR-Wilton 13 run (Frejomil kick)
DR-Brooks 28 run (no conversion attempted)
Rushing yards 196 432
Passing yards 93 70
First downs 6 17
Penalties 5-50 3-15
Turnovers 2 2
Rushing- Cisrow 27-174, Jackson 7-11, Guitierrez 2-5, Scurry 1-6 B; Medley 19-141, McPherson 12-117, Jackson 4-20, Wilton 3-92, Brooks 3-30, Coulbourn 2-28, Pittman 1-4 DR.
Passing-Jackson 3-7-2-93 B; Jackson 3-5-2-70 DR.
Receiving-Scurry 1-66, Guitierrez 26, Cisrow 1-1 B; Convery 2-59, Wilton 1-11 D.
Records-Bridgeton 7-4, Delsea 10-0.