MILLVILLE — St. Joseph High School needed all 100 yards of the football field Friday night.
The Wildcats made two goal-line stands from their own 1-yard line and beat Millville 35-14 in a Cape-Atlantic League American Conference game. St. Joe (3-0) has won 21 straight games since 2010.
“There’s something about St. Joe players,” Wildcats safety and quarterback Anthony Giagunto said. “When we’re locked into the goal line, we just play extra, extra hard.”
St. Joe’s defensive stands came in the first and third quarters. St. Joe led 6-0 when it made its first stand. The Wildcats were ahead 28-14 when they made the second. St. Joe defensive tackle Charles Cade made tackles for losses on both stands.
The Wildcats’ defense played with more energy the closer Millville got to the goal line.
“It’s all about tempo,” Cade said. “We have to be ready, and that’s what we did on the goal line. If we don’t make those stops, it’s 35-35, and we’re going to overtime.”
Fans filled the bleachers at Millville’s Wheaton Field on a clear cool night. St. Joe is No. 1 in The Press Elite 11 and the defending state Non-Public I champion. Millville (2-1) is No. 10 in The Press Elite 11.
St. Joe never trailed. The Wildcats scored on their first three possessions. St. Joe moved the ball consistently behind the running of Giagunto (seven carries for 76 yards and three touchdowns) and running backs Cody Sampson (16 carries for 142 yards), Miles Pease (13 carries for 73 yards) and Rocco Ordille (nine carries for 23 yards).
“We told the kids before the game we’d better control the line of scrimmage, and I think we did a great job,” Wildcats coach Paul Sacco said.
Millville stayed close with the big play.
Quarterback Rashon Sorrell threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes to DeQuan Bowman (six catches for 69 yards).
But the Thunderbolts squandered a chance to change the game on their first possession.
After St. Joe took a 6-0 lead, Millville drove to the St. Joe 2-yard line. Sorrel ran for a yard on second down. But on third down, Cade broke through the line and tackled Millville running back Rob Ennis for a 10-yard loss. A fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
“Momentum wise it would have been nice to get that one and get the lead,” Millville coach Jason Durham said.
Millville had one last opportunity to get back into the game when St. Joe made another goal-line stand in the third quarter.
The Thunderbolts trailed by 14 points when Sorrell scrambled 20 yards to give Millville the ball at the Wildcats’ 1-yard line.
The Thunderbolts lost yardage on the next three plays.
St. Joe defensive tackle Roy Lucas made a tackle for a 1-yard loss on first down. Wildcats defensive back Robert Thompson tackled a Millville ball carrier for a 5-yard loss on second down. Cade broke through the line and sacked Sorrell for an 11-yard loss on third down.
“We ran a couple of stunts,” Cade said. “Luckily, I read it right.”
Sorrell’s fourth down pass was incomplete.
The Wildcats shut out Holy Spirit in week two but were susceptible to the big play against Millville and in a season-opening 37-29 win over Absegami.
Cade and rest of the Wildcats defenders know they must be more consistent.
“It’s getting scary,” Cade said. “We’re a veteran team, but we’re still young at the same time. We have to get together and get better.”
Extra points: Sacco confirmed that Holy Spirit sophomore quarterback C.J. LaFragola has transferred to St. Joe. LaFragola should be able to play 30 days from Friday, under New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic association rules.
Contact Michael McGarry:
St. Joseph 6 15 7 7 - 35
Millville 0 14 0 0 - 21
SJ - Giagunto 28 run (kick missed)
SJ - Sampson 6 run (Giagunto run)
MV - Bowman 16 pass from Sorrell (Van Demark kick)
SJ - Giagunto 8 run (Ryker kick)
MV - Bowman 25 pass from Sorrell (Van Demark kick)
SJ - Ordille 3 run (Ryker kick)
SJ Giagunto 5 run (Ryker kick)
Rushing - Sampson 16-142 SJ. Ennis 14-60 MV.
Passing - Giagunto 5-7-0-24 SJ. Sorrell 12-22-1158 MV.
Receiving - Pease 4-20 SJ. Bowman 6-69 MV.
Records - St. Joseph 3-0; Millville 2-1