ABSECON - The Holy Spirit High School football team wanted to turn Friday night's game with Mainland Regional into a track meet.
That's exactly what Spirit running back's Donta Pollock and Nigel Jones did.
Pollock and Jones combined to run for 402 yards and four touchdowns as the Spartans, ranked fifth in The Press Elite 11, survived a scare to beat Mainland 28-14.
Pollock ran for 252 yards and three touchdowns and Jones for 150 yards and one touchdown despite facing a Mainland front with eight and nine players in the box throughout the game.
"You would see a hole and there was a defender there," Pollock said. "You would have to make a move or run them over. There were no clear holes. It wasn't like this game was going to be a breeze."
Spirit's offensive line and Pollock battered the Mustangs defense all night.
Pollock was quick to lower his shoulder and plow through would-be tacklers and had a handful of brutal stiffarms.
"I'm going to go through them," Pollock said. "I'm not going to be a (wimp). I would never run away from anybody on the field."
Holy Spirit unexpectedly found itself trailing 3-0 midway through the second quarter.
On fourth-and-2, the senior back burst through the line and outran the Mainland secondary for a 32-yard touchdown run.
But Mainland didn't budge.
Jim Cooper easily made a 43-yard field goal, his second of the night, as Mainland moved to within 7-6 with 3 minutes, 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
It was Jones' turn to come up with a big run and that's just what he did, bouncing off the left tackle for a 35-yard gain.
"There were a lot of people in the box," Jones said. "Everytime you got the ball, you saw green everywhere."
Pollock ran for a nine-yard touchdown on the next play.
But Mainland's Dashown Waller scored a 45-yard touchdown on a counter reverse to set up a successful two-point conversion to make it 14-14 with 8:23 remaining.
The Spartans opened from their own 31-yard line and did just as they had all night - pounded the football.
"That's what we train for," Jones said. "Coach (Charles Roman) trains us like that and builds us like that."
Jones carried seven times for 31 yards and Pollock four times for 38 yards as the Spartans marched down the field. Jones' capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
"It was a great effort," Mainland coach Bob Coffey said. "It was a David-and-Goliath game. We knew that going in and the kids laid it on the line today. They really did. I was very proud of the effort. We sure don't like to lose, but we will build off of this."
Spirit pressured Mainland into three incomplete passes, and a running play on fourth-and-10 failed as the Mustangs turned the ball over on downs.
Pollock put the game away for good with a 9-yard touchdown with 2:29 left.
Holy Spirit had to wait two weeks to get back on the field after getting blown out, 34-7, against St. Joseph on Oct. 1. The Spartans (3-2) face another big test next Friday as they will face No. 4 Hammonton.
Spirit fans hope the Pollock-Jones combo can be as successful next week as it was Friday.
"It's a great mixture," Jones said. "It works. I don't think it could get any better. He's the best power back and I've got speed. It's smash and dash."
Contact John O'Kane:
Mainland Regional 0 3 3 8-14
Holy Spirit 0 7 0 21-28
MR-Cooper 21 field goal
HS-Pollock 32 run (Worthington kick)
MR-Cooper 43 field goal
HS-Pollock 9 run (Worthington kick)
MR-Waller 45 run (conversion good)
HS-Jones 1 run (Worthington kick)
HS-Pollock 9 run (Worthington kick)
TEAM STATS MR HS
Rushing 112 402
Passing 111 17
First downs 8 22
Penalties 3-14 3-35
Turnovers 0 1
Rushing-Mainland, Waller 10-66, Storr 4-26, Kaczmarski 8-12, Bradway 5-6, DeSalle 2-2; Holy Spirit, Pollock 33-252, Jones 20-150.
Passing-Mainland, Bradway 6-14-111-0; Holy Spirit,Hehre 2-7-17-1.
Receiving-Mainland, Wilcox 4-106, DeSalle 1-6, Storr 1-(-1); Holy Spirit,Rubino 2-17.
Records-Mainland 2-3; Holy Spirit 3-2.