LACEY TOWNSHIP - The Lacey Township High School football team hasn't played from behind very often this season.
But the Lions stared at a deficit on Saturday afternoon - for all of 30 seconds.
The top-seeded Lions fell behind in the second quarter but scored 24 straight points to beat No. 8 Timber Creek 27-6 in a South Jersey Group III quarterfinal Saturday.
Lacey (10-0), No. 2 in The Press Elite 11, will play Winslow Township next weekend in the semifinals.
The moment Damiere Byrd flew over the pile at the goal line to give Timber Creek (6-4) a 6-3 lead with 35.2 seconds left in the first half, the Lions' game turned around. They promptly drove down the field and took back the lead with 5.9 seconds left.
"I didn't know how we were going to beat them," Lacey coach Lou Vircillo said. "Every time I saw them, there was one guy faster than the next guy."
Lacey had to drive 70 yards with just 29.4 seconds left in the first half to get the momentum back.
Senior quarterback Craig Cicardo (6-for-13, 106 yards) led the drive and hit Jarrod Molzon with two passes, including a 48-yarder to get the Lions inside the 15. On the next play, Cicardo found senior receiver Cameron Blackwell, who plucked the ball from between two defenders and scored on a 14-yard touchdown to go up 10-6 with 5.9 seconds left.
"When they went down to score like they did, they thought they had the momentum," said Molzon, a senior who finished with two touchdowns and field goals of 45 and 29 yards. "We had two key plays and shut down the other team as we were going into halftime."
Lacey looked like a rejuvenated team after the break.
The Lions punted just once in the second half, compared to three times in the first.
Lacey's first drive of the third quarter ended with Molzon's 8-yard touchdown run.
On the Lions' next possession, Molzon hit a 29-yard field goal.
In the fourth quarter, they punted on one drive, Molzon (55 yards, 11 carries) scored a touchdown and then Lacey ran out the clock.
"I just do whatever the coaches ask me," Molzon said. "I do everything I can, everywhere on the field. It's a great feeling when we come out on top."
Lacey's defense set up nearly all of the team's opportunities in the second half.
Four of the Lions' five sacks came in the second half, including two by senior lineman David Vieira.
"Our job is to put pressure on the quarterback, and that's what we did today," Vieira said.
Timber Creek's first possession in the second half lasted just two downs. Junior quarterback Calvin Lowe fumbled, and senior linebacker Tony Pierce recovered.
Pierce disturbed Timber Creek's offense all game. In addition to the fumble recovery, he had a sack and a pass breakup when he hit Lowe's arm on a throw.
"I thought we were going to give up about three touchdowns today," Vircillo said. "Fortunately, our defense did the job in containing their speed."
The Chargers were close to another score late in the third quarter, when they drove to Lacey's 6-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage, Byrd took the handoff and was hit for a 6-yard loss. After an incomplete pass, Vieira sacked Lowe for an 11-yard loss.
On fourth-and-goal from 23 yards out, Timber Creek threw another incomplete pass.
"Something woke us up when they scored," Vieira said. "From that point on, we had to stop them and take every chance we had. We didn't let up."
Contact Susan Lulgjuraj:
Timber Creek 0 6 0 0- 6
Lacey Township 0 10 10 7- 27
LT-Molzon 45 field goal
TC-Byrd 1 run (Kick failed)
LT-Blackwell 14 pass from Cicardo (Molzon kick)
LT-Molzon 8 run (Ruhnke kick)
LT-Molzon 29 field goal
LT-Molzon 24 run (Ruhnke kick)
TEAM STATISTICS TC LT
First Downs 12 5
Rushing 44 85
Passing 203 106
Turnovers 3 0
RUSHING-Timber Creek, Hardwick 1-1, Maniscalco 2-5, Potter 5-15, Byrd 12-15, Lower 13-8. Lacey, Torrell 2-0, Ruhnke 1-6, Cicardo 11-13, Molzon 11-55, Dabal 7-12.
PASSING-Timber Creek, Lowe 11-26-1-184, Maniscalco 3-8-0-19. Lacey, Cicardo 6-13-0-106
RECEIVING-Timber Creek, Bednarik 6-122, Byrd 4-44, Krusch 4-37. Lacey, Torrell 3-73, Blackwell 3-33
RECORDS-Lacey 10-0, Timber Creek 6-4.