ATLANTIC CITY — The Atlantic City and Millville high school football teams both made their share of big plays Friday night.
Millville saved its biggest for when it counted most.
Thunderbolts quarterback Rashon Sorrell and wide receiver DeQwan Bowman teamed up for a 73-yard touchdown pass with 1 minute, 27 seconds remaining to clinch a 24-19 victory over the Vikings in the season opener for both teams.
“Hats off to Millville,” Atlantic City coach Thomas Kelly said. “We knew this would come down to athletes making plays and their athletes just made one more than ours.”
Atlantic City led 19-18 and had a chance to run out the clock, but the Vikings were stopped on downs at the Thunderbolts’ 27-yard line with 1:43 remaining.
On Millville’s next play from scrimmage, Bowman was running stride for stride with an Atlantic City defender down the right sideline when Sorrell launched a pass.
Just before the ball arrived, the Vikings’ defensive back stumbled. Bowman caught it in stride and even ran across the field at the 1-yard line to trim a few more seconds off the clock before crossing the goal line and producing loud cheers from Millville’s small-but-enthusiastic cheering section.
“I didn’t see who was behind me,” Bowman said. “All I knew is that the ball was coming my way and I couldn’t mess up. When everybody is depending on you, you have to make a play.”
That was the decisive play in a thrilling, back-and-forth contest between two of the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference’s top teams.
Millville lost a lot of standouts from last season’s 11-1 squad but showed it still has enough talent.
Sorrell, who switched to quarterback after playing wide receiver last season, completed 6-of-10 passes for 122 yards.
Bowman, who also scored on a 2-yard run, caught four passes for 91 yards.
Sophomore running back Rob Ennis got off to a slow start but came on strong in the second half. Held to 20 yards on nine carries in the first two quarters, he finished with 130 yards on 15 attempts, including an electric, 79-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter that put Millville ahead 18-13.
Ennis charged into the heart of Atlantic City’s defense, cut toward the sideline and then outran two Vikings to the end zone.
“I didn’t hear or see anyone coming up behind me,” Ennis said. “All I saw were the fans (standing behind the end zone) in front of me.”
Running back Domeneek Brown-Hurd was Atlantic City’s top offensive star. He scored a pair of first-half touchdowns and finished with 118 yards on 22 carries. Wide receiver Tyshiek Wright caught eight passes from quarterbacks Jarren McBride and Jaleel Prevard Jr. for 108 yards.
Prevard was not expected to play quarterback but was summoned into service when McBride was forced to leave the game with cramps. Prevard, a senior, completed 4 of 6 passes for 73 yards during a 98-yard drive that ended with Demond Cottman’s 11-yard TD run. That gave the Vikings a 19-18 lead with 9:39 remaining.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” Kelly said. “But we also had a lot of kids step up and make plays. We preach to the kids all the time that anybody’s number can get called, especially at this point of the season. It would have been a great story if we had been able to pull this one out.”
Contact David Weinberg: