MILLVILLE - Running back Alquann Jones gathered his Millville High School teammates around him in a corner of the end zone Friday and began to chant.
"We're 5-0! ... We're 5-0!," he yelled. "We're risin' up. ... We're risin' up. ... We cannot fall. ... We cannot fall."
The Thunderbolts had good reason to celebrate. They delivered a terrific offensive performance, scoring touchdowns on their first five possessions during a 49-34 victory over Absegami in a Cape-Atlantic League American Conference game.
Millville, No. 9 in The Press Elite 11, improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1991. The Thunderbolts also established themselves as strong contenders in both the CAL race and the upcoming South Jersey Group IV playoffs.
"This is a big win for us," said Millville quarterback Shaq Lee, who scored two touchdowns. "I think people were doubting us because of who we beat before this. But I think we proved ourselves by beating Absegami because they are a very good team."
Millville's offensive firepower was just too much for the Braves (2-3) to handle. Five players scored touchdowns for the Thunderbolts, who led 30-14 at halftime. Jones, the CAL's leading rusher, scored three of the TDs while gaining 192 yards on 33 carries. He was on his way to topping the 200-yard mark for the fourth time this season but left with an ankle injury with 6 minutes, 45 seconds remaining.
He delivered another impressive performance after the game, convincing his teammates to follow his impromptu cheer that even had coach Jason Durham smiling.
"That's the first time we've done anything like that this season," Jones said with a laugh. "I used to do that cheer all the time in midget football and I thought the time was right to do it again tonight. This was a very big win for us, so I wanted to do something special."
Millville enjoyed plenty of special moments during the game, starting on its second play from scrimmage when freshman running back Rob Ennis caught a screen pass from Lee and streaked up the left sideline for a 60-yard touchdown.
Jones followed an Absegami turnover with a 2-yard TD run and Lee added a 17-yard scoring run to help the Thunderbolts take an 18-7 lead into the second quarter. The Thunderbolts had scored just a total of 14 first-quarter points in their first four games.
Tyler Bing provided Absegami's biggest play in the first quarter when he answered Jones' first TD with an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He nearly broke another one just a few minutes later, reeling off a 59-yarder. Quarterback Rashad Kinlaw accounted for three of Absegami's touchdowns, running for two and throwing for one.
"I was a little disappointed in the way we responded after our bye week," Braves coach Dennis Scuderi Jr. said. "We got beat. We got outplayed, we got outcoached, we got outeverythinged. But give Millville the credit. They're a pretty explosive team."
Jones has been the the Thunderbolts' top offensive player all season, but he was not the only hero. Four other players scored touchdowns against Absegami. Millville rushed for almost 400 yards (392).
"I was most proud of our overall effort," Durham said. "We made some mistakes, but we played hard."
Contact David Weinberg:
Absegami 14 0 0 20-34
Millville 18 12 6 13-49
M- Ennis 60 pass from Lee. (Pass failed)
M- Jones 2 run. (Run failed)
A- Bing 87 kickoff return (Della Vecchia kick)
M- Lee 17 run. (Run failed)
A- Kinlaw 7 run. (Della Vecchia kick)
M- Sorrell 8 run. (Run failed)
M- Jones 13 run. (Kick failed)
M- Jones 4 run. (Run failed)
A- Bing 14 run. (Pass failed)
M- Holden 1 run. (Kick failed)
A- Gilbert 14 pass from Kinlaw (Kinlaw run)
M- Lee 1 run. (Price kick)
A- Kinlaw 5 run. (Kick failed)
TEAM STATS A M
First Downs 14 29
Rushing Yards 144 392
Passing Yards 101 164
Turnovers 2 2
Rushing- Absegami, Kinlaw 14-75, Bing 5-34, Hood 9-34, Jenkins 2-1; Millville, Jones 33-192, Lee 8-73, Ennis 5-65, Sorrell 2-35, McShan 2-14, Holden 4-9, Bowman 1-4.
Passing- Absegami, Kinlaw 13-18-101; Millville, Lee 9-11-164.
Receiving-Absegami, Jenkins 4-56, Gilbert 4-31, Bing 4-15, Miller 1-4; Millville, Boyer 3-77, Ennis 1-60, Sorrell 2-13, Jones 1-7, Bowman 2-7.
RECORDS- Absegami 2-3; Millville 5-0.