PLEASANTVILLE - The Middle Township High School football team notched its first win of the season with a 14-6 victory over Pleasantville in a Cape-Atlantic League game on Friday.
Led by junior Nigel Case's 155 yards rushing, the Panthers felt that taste of success was long overdue.
"We've been working hard since practices in the summer and we feel we've played pretty good for four weeks," Middle coach Mike Wilson said. "It's taken a while for it all to pay off."
The Panthers never trailed in the game and took control early with their running game. On their first drive, Case led the team 60 yards down the field on six plays to inside the Greyhounds' 20. Pleasantville recovered a fumble on their own 17, but couldn't move the chains on three plays, forcing them to punt.
Middle Township took advantage of a high snap, getting past the Pleasantville line to block the punt. The ball rolled out of the end zone for a safety, giving the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
Senior Ben Keith gave the Panthers good field position on the ensuing kickoff with a 38-yard return to the Greyhounds' 32. Case rushed for 23 yards on three carries in the drive, which ended with him breaking through the line for a 3-yard touchdown.
"I just keep going," Case said of his running. "I keep moving and keep my legs pushing."
The conversion failed and the Panthers carried an 8-0 lead into halftime.
The Greyhounds came out fast in the third quarter, starting with freshman Tariq Adams returning the opening kick 26 yards to the Panthers' 44.
After a first down, freshman quarterback Che'quan Hargrose faked to Hassan Calloway then handed off to senior Dontaye Rivera who broke four tackles up the right side into the endzone for a 33-yard touchdown.
"He's a strong kid," Pleasantville coach David Dudley said. "The other day in the gym he benched 225 pounds 19 times. I don't know too many high school athletes that can do that. He's got the strength and the determination."
The conversion failed and Pleasantville couldn't keep its momentum going, trailing 8-6 heading into the fourth quarter.
Middle Township added to its lead on a 7-yard touchdown run by junior Zack Vogelei with 2:45 remaining in regulation.
Trailing 14-6, The Greyhounds started a drive with Hargrose finding Rivera with a pass for a 13-yard gain, bringing them to midfield. At the 50, the drive stalled with a tackle for a loss forcing Hargrose to spike the ball to stop the clock.
After a sack on third down and the clock ticking below a minute, a misunderstanding of the situation led to Hargrose spiking the ball again.
Middle Township gained control on downs and was able to run out the clock.
"He's a freshman and he's going to make mistakes," Dudley said of Hargrose. "But eventually he's going to learn how to win. He's growing in the game of football, and we're growing with him."
Pleasantville will take the loss in stride as a learning experience.
"We're an inexperienced team," Dudley said. "We're led by seniors in the backfield who play excellent whether we win or lose. Right now we look at it as every snap we get for our young guys is a good thing for us."
Contact Jeff Sporer:
Middle Township 8 0 0 6- 14
Pleasantville 0 0 6 0- 6
MT- Case 3 run
P- Rivera 33 run
MT- Vogelei 7 run
Records-Middle Township 1-4; Pleasantville 0-4.