EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - Running back Desmond Garris of Egg Harbor Township High School knew what was at stake Friday as the Eagles football team took on Atlantic City.
And he was a big factor in turning EHT's fortunes around after a bad loss last week.
The senior scored both of his team's touchdowns as the Eagles upset the previously unbeaten Vikings 16-13 in a Cape-Atlantic League American Division game.
The Eagles are 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the division, and kept their South Jersey Group IV playoff hopes alive. Atlantic City, ranked 11th in The Press Elite 11, is 4-1 and 2-1.
"We knew we had to win today or there would be no playoffs for us," Garris, 17, said. "It feels so good. We came out and played with a lot of heart tonight. That was our goal - make Atlantic City 4-1."
Garris scored the winning touchdown as he hauled in a pass from quarterback Ken Doughty and eluded a tackler on his way to a 46-yard touchdown. He also went up the middle for a 1-yard TD in the first quarter.
EHT shook off the effects of a 48-15 loss to Hammonton last week, and didn't fold when the Vikings scored less than three minutes into the game.
"It feels great," EHT junior fullback Matt Clayton, 17 said of the win. "It was definitely a tough week for us but we showed up tonight."
Clayton set up his team's first touchdown with a 28-yard run up the middle to the A.C. 14-yard line in the first quarter.
Clayton got two more yards on the next play, and Doughty earned three more yards on a keeper play. Garris did the rest has he ran 9 yards to a first down at the 1-yard line, and took it over on second down.
EHT's scoring edge came with 6.6 seconds left in the second quarter as junior kicker Tim Mason booted a 28-yard field goal to give his team a 10-7 halftime lead. The play was set up by EHT linebacker Ely Ramirez, who picked up a Vikings fumble and ran it 43 yards to the A.C. nine.
After two more plays, Egg Harbor Township coach Tony DeRosa took no chances on time management with 10.5 seconds on the clock and decided to kick on third down. In the end, it was the difference.
"We had the momentum and not a lot of time," DeRosa said. "I panicked trying to get the play in, but I have a lot of trust and faith in Tim coming through for us. He's been our kicker for three years. Coming up with some points there was big."
Mason, a 16-year-old junior, added, "I was ready the whole time, practicing on the sidelines to get ready for the kick. It had a great snap and a good hold. It was a little low, but it got through. It was a real good win, a bounce-back game."
Atlantic City took a 13-10 lead with three minutes gone in the fourth quarter as quarterback Kabir McCoy fired a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Radi Tolbert.
Tolbert also played some quarterback during the game but threw only two passes, while McCoy connected on 14-of-22 passes for 190 yards, with two interceptions.
A.C. kicked off to start the game but recovered an EHT fumble at the home team's 40-yard line on the play. Tolbert finished up a six-play drive with a 1-yard plunge for a score.
"The bottom line is that we didn't make enough plays," Atlantic City coach Thomas Kelly said. "We knew it would be a tough game whether we came out on top or not. We pride ourselves on making plays late in the game, but tonight we didn't."
Contact Guy Gargan:
Atlantic City 7 0 0 6-13
Egg Harbor Township 7 3 0 6-16
AC-Tolbert 1 run (Williams kick)
EHT-Garris 1 run (Mason kick)
EHT-Mason 28 field goal
AC-Tolbert 30 pass from McCoy (kick failed)
EHT-Garris 46 pass from Doughty (kick blocked)
TEAM STATS AC EHT
First downs 13 7
Rushing 91 132
Passing 195 51
Turnovers 4 1
Rushing-AC-McCoy 21-50, Tolbert 16-37, Hurd 1-4. EHT-Fitzpatrick 12-53, Clayton 10-53, Doughty 6-10, Garris 3-13, Vance 1-3.
Passing-AC-McCoy 14-22-2-190, Tolbert 1-2-0-5. EHT-Doughty 4-12-0-51.
Receiving-AC-McBryde 4-46, D. Reynolds 2-15, Hurd 1-14, Naji 4-28, Tolbert 4-92. EHT-Vance 1-5, Lindacher 1-2, Fitzpatrick 1-3, Garris 1-46.
Records-EHT 3-3; A.C. 4-1.