EWING TOWNSHIP - Nigel Jones and Donta Pollock didn't worry about what down it was Friday night.
The seniors didn't fret about how far away the goal line was.
They were determined to run the Holy Spirit High School football team to a state championship no matter what the situation.
Pollock and Jones combined to run for 454 yards and seven touchdowns as Spirit overwhelmed Camden Catholic 51-7 to win the state Non-Public II title at The College of New Jersey in Mercer County.
Pollock rushed 32 times for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Jones carried 26 times for 189 yards and four touchdowns.
"Wow," Pollock said when told after the game roughly how many rushing yards he and Jones had combined to gain.
"This is the best we ever played together in one game," Jones said.
Friday's game was one of the most anticipated of the 20 championship games being played in New Jersey this weekend. Camden Catholic (10-1) was the top seed and No. 5 in The Press Elite 11. Holy Spirit (8-3) was the No. 2 seed and No. 10 in the Elite 11.
Fans nearly packed the home and visiting bleachers on a chilly, clear night. They saw the Spirit offensive line of A.J. Thomas, Joe Bodenlos, Domenic LaFragola, Nico D'Angelo, Steve Domonoski and tight end Zach Fabel opened gaping holes for their backs.
"It was picture perfect," D'Angelo said of the line's play. "Everyone knew their assignments. We were physical."
When Jones and Pollock did encounter Irish defenders, more often than not they ran over the would-be tacklers. The two running backs credited TCNJ's artificial grass field for much of their success.
"We've been playing on muddy grass," Pollock said. "When we got on this turf, we felt like we were flying."
Spirit converted several third-and-longs with running plays. Pollock gained 16 yards on a third-and-13 in the second quarter. Jones ran for 17 yards on a third-and-11 late in the first half. Spirit threw just three passes, all incomplete.
"We felt upfront they wouldn't be able to handle us, and it worked out that way," Spirit coach Charles Roman said.
Spirit scored on all four of their first-half possessions. The Spirit took control in the second quarter.
Pollock capped a 13-play, 62-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to give the Spartans a 14-7 lead with 9 minutes, 44 seconds left in the first half. Spirit never trailed again.
Jones added a 2-yard touchdown run with 2:26 left in the half.
Spirit then ended the first half with plenty of momentum as Tom Worthington kicked a 39-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter to give Spirit a 24-7 lead.
Jones quickly ended any Camden Catholic hopes of a second-half comeback. He returned the kickoff 71 yards to the Camden Catholic 27-yard line. Four plays later, Jones ran up the middle untouched for a 9-yard touchdown to give the Spartans a 30-7 lead with 9:20 left in the third quarter.
The Spirit defense matched the Spartans' offensive domination. Camden Catholic struggled to block Spartan Dan Mastromatteo. The North Carolina-bound linebacker sacked Irish quarterback Pete Galiano and drew two holding penalties.
"I think our defense peaked at the perfect time," Mastromatteo said. "We kept getting better and better (as the season progressed) and this game capped it all off. We knew the only person who could hurt us was the quarterback, and we took care of him."
The Spartans dumped a water bucket on Roman's head as the final seconds ticked off the clock. They posed for pictures with the state championship trophy.
Spirit began the season No. 1 in the Elite 11. But the Spartans struggled - by their own lofty standards - in the regular season. Spirit lost lopsided games to both St. Joseph and Hammonton.
But the Spartans ended the season with five straight wins and Friday night's performance was the type they envisioned for themselves in the preseason.
Spirit has won back-back state titles. The Spartans finished 12-0 and won the state Non-Public III championship last year.
"This one feels better than last year because of all the struggles," Roman said. "This team deserved to be state champions, and I'm glad they were able to show against a quality team how good they are."
The game also served as a triumphant ending to Pollock's and Jones' careers. The two are the first classmates in New Jersey history to each run for more than 4,000 career yards.
Pollock finished with 4,913 career yards, while Jones rushed for 4,315 career yards.
"This is the best way to end our career together," Jones said. "It was unbelievable."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Holy Spirit 7 17 20 7-51
Camden Catholic 7 0 0 0-7
HS-Jones 15 run (Worthington kick)
CC-Blandon 63 run (Kamara kick)
HS-Pollock 7 run (Worthington kick)
HS-Jones 2 run (Worthington kick)
HS-Worthington 39 FG
HS-Jones 9 run (kick blocked)
HS-Jones 52 run (Worthington kick)
HS-Pollock 15 run (Worthington kick)
HS-Pollock 10 run (Worthington kick)
Rushing-Pollock 32-265, Jones 26-189 HS. Blandon 10-114 CC.
Passing-Hehre 0-3-0-0 HS. Galiano 2-9-0-12 CC.
Receiving-Collins 1-9 CC.
Records-Holy Spirit 8-3; Camden Catholic 10-1