BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP - One thought popped into Tim Mason's head as he kicked the football low but straight between the uprights Friday night.
"Dang, I just won the game," Mason said.
Mason's 31-yard field goal as time expired gave the Egg Harbor Township High School football team a 17-14 win over St. Augustine Prep in a Cape-Atlantic League American Division game.
EHT (2-2) rallied from a 14-0 deficit. EHT players rushed the field and mobbed Mason after the kick.
Mason, a junior, had yet to kick a field goal this season.
He had one field-goal attempt blocked and returned for a touchdown in a 13-10 win over Bridgeton two weeks ago. He ran onto the field with 1 second left Friday night.
"I was a little nervous," Mason said. "I just tried to keep my head and take a deep breath."
The Eagles began their winning drive on their own 22-yard line with 3 minutes, 56 seconds left in the fourth quarter. EHT quarterback Kevin Doughty completed all four of his pass attempts during the drive for 65 yards.
His biggest completion came on third-down and 16 yards to go from the EHT 18-yard line. Doughty completed a 17-yard pass over the middle to A.J. Vance.
‘That was huge for us," Doughty said. "Getting that first down really sprung us to this victory."
Doughty then completed three straight passes to move the ball from the EHT 46-yard line to the St. Augustine 6 with 12 seconds to play.
"I knew I had to focus on getting the ball where it needed to be," Doughty said. "I wanted to make sure the ball was in the right spot, hitting (receivers) in the face mask."
Mason appeared set for a 23-yard field goal. But on the play before the kick, Doughty ran wide and St. Augustine defensive end John Barillo sacked the quarterback for an 8-yard loss.
EHT coach Tony DeRosa didn't hesitate to send Mason out for the field goal. Mason kicked for the EHT team that reached the 2009 South Jersey Group IV final as a freshman. He kicked three field goals as a sophomore.
"Tim knows what winning is about," DeRosa said. "I have a lot of confidence in him. He works really hard at his craft."
Any thoughts of last-minute EHT heroics appeared farfetched in the first half. The Hermits (2-2) scored twice in less than two minutes to take a 14-0 second-quarter lead.
St. Augustine's first touchdown came on Taalib Gerald's 51-yard run with 11:03 left before halftime. A botched EHT punt and a personal foul penalty on the Eagles allowed St. Augustine to start its next possession at the Eagles' 14-yard line. Hermits quarterback Joe Gatto ran around end on the Hermits first play to score with 9:52 left in the half.
"We could have folded up," DeRosa said. "We're a young inexperienced team."
Instead, EHT shutdown the St. Augustine offense. The Hermits had negative-four yards of offense in the third and fourth quarters. EHT defensive back Chris Treadway intercepted a pass in the third quarter. Eagles linemen Tyler Waller, Matt Clayton and Joe Valenti each had a sack.
The EHT offense slowly grinded its way back into the game. Doughty set up the tying touchdown when he ran 34 yards for a first down on a fourth-and-two play from the St. Augustine 36. Clayton scored on the next play to make it 14-14 with 2:07 left in the third quarter.
Friday's win boosted the Eagles' playoff hopes. They have made three-straight South Jersey Group IV playoff appearances, but the core of those teams has graduated.
"This is a great momentum builder," DeRosa said. "Our kids are starting to believe in themselves."
EHT won't have to wait long to carry Friday's momentum into their next game. The Eagles play at undefeated Hammonton on Thursday.
Contact Michael McGarry:
Egg Harbor Township 0 7 7 3—17
St. Augustine Prep 0 14 0 0—14
AUG—Gerald 51 run (Hurff kick)
AUG—Gatto 14 run (Hurff kick)
EHT—Doughty 1 run (Mason kick)
EHT—Clayton 2 run (Mason kick)
EHT—Mason 31 field goal
Rushing—Doughty 10-61 EHT; Gerald 12-67 AUG.
Passing—Doughty 10-20-1-114 EHT; Gatto 5-10-3-41 AUG.
Receiving—Garris 3-36 EHT; Gerald 2-17 AUG.
Records—EHT 2-2; St. Augustine 2-2.