EGG HARBOR CITY - The fifth time Gary Melton touched the football Saturday afternoon, he ran into the defensive line and was stopped for a 1-yard loss.
In any other game, it would have been a routine stop. But on this day, fans and media looked at each other and wondered what went wrong.
That's because the first four times the Cedar Creek High School running back touched the ball he scored.
Melton's fast start propelled the undefeated Pirates to a 55-6 win over Lower Cape May Regional in a Cape-Atlantic League National Conference game.
"It's one of those things that just happens," said Melton, who finished the game with four touchdowns. "It all came together for me. The offensive line was blocking. The wide receivers were blocking, and I was using my speed."
Cedar Creek (8-0) is tied for the conference lead with St. Augustine Prep. The Pirates will be at least the No. 2 seed when the South Jersey Group II playoffs begin Nov. 15-16.
Melton (eight carries for 151 yards) runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds. The 5-foot-11, 182-pound senior simply outsprinted the Lower defenders to the end zone.
"When the coaches give me the carries, I try to give them a reason to give me (the ball) again," Melton said.
Melton did just that in the first quarter.
On his first carry, he scored on a 45-yard run with 10 minutes, 28 seconds left in the first quarter.
Melton then ran 58 yards for a touchdown on his second carry with 5:38 left in the quarter.
On his third carry, Melton scored on a 37-yard run with 4:33 left in the first quarter.
The fourth time he touched the ball, Melton caught a pass in the flat and ran 43 yards for a score with 1:40 left in the first quarter. When the first quarter was over, Cedar Creek led 35-0.
After a slow start, Melton has emerged as one of the CAL's top running backs the past three weeks. He has scored 10 touchdowns in the past three games.
Cedar Creek coach Tim Watson said Melton is running with more patience now than earlier in the season. The coach said Melton also is running better between the tackles. Defenses can't focus only on stopping him from getting to the outside.
"His interior running is the best that it's been," Watson said.
And Melton is just one of Cedar Creek's talented skill-position players.
Quarterback Damon Mitchell (4-of-9 for 90 yards) has committed verbally to attend Georgia Tech. He ran for two touchdowns and threw for two scores Saturday.
Tight end Dazayn McFadden caught a touchdown pass and wide receiver Caleb Graves returned a kickoff 75 yards for a score.
The Cedar Creek defense was equally as impressive as the offense.
Defensive back Lasana Toure intercepted two passes. Defensive lineman Ralph Collazo recovered a fumble and linebacker Jalil Burrell made a tackle for a loss.
Saturday's game was one of two local high school football games played this weekend. Hurricane Sandy caused all other games to be postponed to next week.
The Pirates will use the upcoming week to prepare for big games to come. In addition to the playoffs, Cedar Creek plays at St. Augustine Prep on Thanksgiving in a contest that will decide the CAL National Conference title.
"We have our sights set pretty high," Watson said. "We think we have a chance to make a run at this thing."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Lower Cape May 0 0 6 0-6
Cedar Creek 35 14 6 0-55
CC-Melton 55 run (Kruger kick)
CC-Mitchell 11 run (Kruger kick)
CC-Melton 58 run (Kruger kick)
CC-Melton 37 run (Kruger kick)
CC-Melton 47 pass from Mitchell (Kruger kick)
CC-McFadden 6 pass from Mitchell (Kruger kick)
CC-Mitchell 27 run (Kruger kick)
CC-Graves 75 kick return (Kruger kick)
LC-Marshall 58 punt return (run failed)