HAMMONTON - Some people thought the Hammonton High School football team would be far too strong for underdog Kingsway Regional in their South Jersey Group III quarterfinal game on Friday.
But Hammonton coach Pete Lancetta warned his team that it would be a tough game.
Lancetta turned out to be right, but the visiting Dragons couldn't stop Hammonton running back Dave Williams and couldn't pass through the Blue Devils' secondary. Hammonton had four interceptions.
Hammonton (8-1), the No. 2 seed and ranked ninth in The Press Elite 11, scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns and beat Kingway 24-10. Williams, a junior, rushed for 185 yards on 26 carries and scored two touchdowns.
"I told the team that in the playoffs you don't push anybody over," Lancetta said. "Everybody in the playoffs is out to win. There's nothing wrong with a little adversity if you can overcome it."
Hammonton hosts third-seeded Moorestown at 7 p.m. next Friday in a South Jersey Group III semifinal game. Moorestown beat No. 6 Oakcrest 34-7.
"It only gets tougher," Lancetta said. "Moorestown has a great passing game."
Williams opened the scoring in the second play of the second quarter as he finished up a nine-play 40-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown off left tackle. He scored an insurance TD from 1-yard out with 1:59 left to play.
"We all gave it everything we had, and the line blocked well," said Williams, 16, an Atco resident. "Kingsway was pretty tough but we came back and stayed in control.
Williams was also a pretty good decoy. The score was tied a 10-10 with under 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter and Williams carried the ball six plays in a row for a total of 59 yards.
With all eyes on him, Hammonton decided to pass. Quarterback Christian Mortellite threw a high arching pass that senior wide receiver Bobby Barbieri caught in the end zone for a game-winning 21-yard touchdown.
"Christian gave me a good ball, and the line gave me time, and I was able to come down with it," said Barbieri, 17, a Hammonton resident. "We knew Kingsway was a good football team. It wasn't pretty, but as long as you win in a playoff game, you're happy."
Up 7-0 in the second quarter, it looked like Hammonton was about to take control, but the next score was by the Dragons.
Williams fumbled on Kingway's 44-yard line and it took the Dragans six plays to score 16 seconds before halftime. Quarterback Tyler Barnholt flipped a screen pass to running back Ray Lawry, who went 25 yards to a touchdown. The PAT made it 7-7.
The kicking game took over as Hammonton's Alex Padovani booted a 30-yard field goal to put his team up 10-7 in the third quarter.
But Kingsway's Kevin Barr made a field goal from 25 yards to tie it again with 9:04 left in the game.
But Hammonton kept the ball in Williams' hands and that led to the Blue Devils' final two touchdowns. The last score was set up by an interception by Barbieri.
"Hammonton is a terrific football team and we knew we'd have to play good defense," Kingsway coach Tony Barchuk said. "We knew it was a challenge for our kids but I thought we played well."
Contact Guy Gargan:
Kingsway Regional 0 7 0 3-10
Hammonton 7 0 3 14-24
H-Dave Willliams 1 run (Padovani kick)
K-Lawry 25 pass from Barnholt (Barr kick)
H-Padovani 30 field goal
K-Barr 25 field goal
H-Barbieri 21 pass from Mortellite (Padovani kick)
H-Dave Williams 1 run (Padovani kick)
TEAM STATS K H
First downs 10 14
Rushing 117 198
Passing 77 43
Turnovers 4 1
Rushing-K-Irving 7-43, Lawry 17-66, Barnholt 6-8. H-Brown 5-10, Dave Williams 26-185, Mortellite 8--27, Dom Williams 2-10, Rosu 5-20.
Passing-K-Barnholt 6-14=4-77. H-Mortellite 3-5-0-43.
Receiving-K-Johnson 2-12, Lawrty 2-38, Barr 1-15, Healy 1-12. H-Barbieri 2-41, Dave Williams 1-2.
Records-Hammonton 8-1; Kingsway 4-5.