LINWOOD - The Mainland Regional High School football team's success against Egg Harbor Township in the late-going Thursday gave the Mustangs' Jim Cooper a last shot at breaking the state career field-goal record.
Cooper booted three fourth-quarter field goals in Mainland's 30-9 victory, including a final one that gave him the state high school mark of 31 for his career.
The senior boomed a 30-yarder with 22.9 seconds left in the game and broke the mark set by Lenape's Rob Juliano in 1990 and tied by Gil Gutierrez of St. John Vianney in 1998.
Cooper's record-breaking kick had some unusual circumstances with under three minutes left. Mainland defensive back Matt Maiman intercepted a pass around the EHT 30-yard line and returned it all the way up the left sideline. But Mainland was called for a block in the back, bringing the ball back to the 19.
After three running plays, Cooper broke the mark.
"I was really rooting for Matt to get into the end zone," said Cooper, an 18-year-old senior from Linwood. "I was ready to kick an extra point. I know what God wants to happen, happens. You leave it up to the Big Man and you take care of the rest. I'm really happy to get it, to know all the hard work pays off. The biggest reason it feels good is because I like making my family proud."
Cooper has verbally committed to play for Temple University next fall on a full athletic scholarship. He thanked his holder, Tom Bradway, and his snapper, David Donovan.
"I couldn't have gotten it without them, and the line did really well," Cooper said. "Coach (Bob) Coffey likes the kicking game, and this record couldn't come about without that. I'm leaving the best coaching staff in high school to go to the best at the college level, and that's a great feeling to have."
Mainland finished the season at 4-6 and 2-6 in the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference. Egg Harbor Township finished 4-6 overall and 3-5 in the American.
Mainland gets to keep the Kiwanis Trophy, having beaten EHT three consecutive times.
"The team has played well, the last two games especially," Coffey said. "I'm happy for the kids and the community. We came together at the end and beat two good teams (also 52-6 over Cherry Hill West last week).
"The record by Jim is huge. He saved it for the last game, and I'm really happy for him. His dad (Jim Cooper Sr.), has worked with, not only Jim, but all the Mainland kickers for the past 27 years."
Mainland senior tailback Brett Edmunds gained 131 yards on 30 carries, and scored on touchdown runs of 2 and 66 yards to put the Mustangs up 14-0 in the first half.
"We switched our offense and it's been working for us," said Edmunds, 18, of Linwood. "We moved the ball, and that's tough against EHT. We ran the I-formation the whole game, and I like it because it's easier to pick the hole. Our line played great. There was always a clear hole to cut through."
Egg Harbor Township's Tim Mason kicked a 39-yard field goal to get the Eagles on the board before halftime. EHT running back Matt Clayton (19 carries for 103 yards) ran 9 yards up the left side to score a touchdown on the first drive of the second half. The kick was wide and Mainland was up 14-9.
Nick Droboniku's 8-yard TD and Cooper's three field goals kept the Mustangs in control.
Egg Harbor Township junior Adam Bynum, a former wide receiver, played quarterback in place of the injured Ken Doughty. Bynum completed nine passes for 95 yards, all to wide receiver Hajilik Smith.
"Adam threw some great throws in there," said Egg Harbor Township coach Tony DeRosa. "We tried to condense the game plan and keep it simple. I'm proud of him, he stepped up. I'm proud of the way we battled. Mainland really put it together at the end. They outplayed us, and my hat's off to them."
Contact Guy Gargan:
Egg Harbor Township 0 3 6 0-9
Mainland Regional 7 7 0 16-30
M-Edmunds 2 run (Cooper kick)
M-Edmunds 66 run (Cooper kick)
EHT-Mason 39 field goal
EHT-Clayton 9 run (kick failed)
M-Cooper 43 field goal
M-Droboniku 8 run (Cooper kick)
M-Cooper 41 field goal
M-Cooper 30 field goal
TEAM STATS EHT M
First downs 10 12
Rushing 156 210
Passing 95 81
Turnovers 3 1
Rushing-EHT-Clayton 19-103, Fitzpatrick 6-8, Smith 1-44, Moore 4-6, Bynum 5-5. M-Edmunds 30-131, Droboniku 4-19, Bradway 4-41, Walsh 1-17, Randall 1-2.
Passing-EHT-Bynum 9-21-95. M-Bradway 5-9-81.
Receiving-EHT-Smith 9-95. M-O'Shea 1-44, Maiman 2-14, Sutor 1-12, Reed 1-11.
Records-Mainland 4-6; EHT 4-6.