OCEAN CITY - Andrew Fiorentino and Chris Curran gave the Ocean City High School football team the lead Friday night.
Rob Zauck made sure the Red Raiders kept it.
The Red Raiders scored with 3 minutes, 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter to beat Millville 13-12 in a Cape-Atlantic League American Conference game. Ocean City (2-3) boosted its playoff hopes. Millville (3-3) saw its two-game winning streak end.
Curran capped an 82-yard drive when he threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Fiorentino and then kicked the extra point to give the Red Raiders the one-point edge.
"Before the drive started, (assistant coach Kevin Smith) got on the headset with me and told me we were going to go down and score a touchdown," Curran said, "because this was a game we had to get."
Zauck, a linebacker, had a sack and deflected pass on Millville's last possession to preserve the win.
"I think we're a contender, and we're going to keep coming each week," Zauck said.
The game was played in misty, windy conditions before a sparse crowd. Ocean City won in part because it turned a potential negative situation into a positive.
The Red Raiders did not know in the days leading up to the game whether Curran would be able to play because of a knee injury that occurred in last week's loss to Hammonton. So, they installed a version of the Wildcat offense with Fiorentino at quarterback.
"This week at practice I got a feel for it," he said. "To have the ball in your hands in nice."
The Red Raiders used the formation on several plays on their winning drive.
Ocean City began the possession at its own 18-yard line with 6:55 left in the game. Millville led 12-6.
Fiorentino provided an offensive spark that Ocean City had been missing most of the game. He had back-to-back runs of 16 and 17 yards to move the ball to the Millville 24-yard line.
"It's a quick hit. We have a numbers advantage," Fiorentino said. "The line was blocking it great. They over pursued, and I just cut it back."
Fiorentino (37 rushing yards, 66 receiving yards) ran once more on the possession out of the Wildcat. This time he gained 4 yards to the Millville 8.
On the next play, Curran (12-of-24 for 115 yards) found Fiorentino open over the middle on a slant pattern for the touchdown.
Zauck then showed why he is one of the league's most dynamic defensive players.
"We figured they were going to throw the ball," Ocean City coach Mark Impagliazzo said, "so we walked him up to the edge and brought him on every play."
The Thunderbolts drove to the Ocean City 40 with 52 seconds left. But the drive stalled when Zauck sacked quarterback Tasker Robbins for an 8-yard loss. Millville never recovered.
"I said before and I'll say it again," Zauck said, "getting a sack is the most electrifying thing ever."
Millville ran two more plays - a completed pass that lost 2 yards and a pass that Zauck deflected Harmlessly to the grass.
While Ocean City celebrated the victory, Millville glumly left the field. All losses are disappointing, but this was especially frustrating. The defeat hurts Millville's playoff chances.
Millville dominated the first quarter and much of the first half. The Thunderbolts controlled the line of scrimmage. Running back Rashad Johnson rushed 23 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
But that dominance didn't translate into enough points to win.
"It was a game we felt we could win," Millville coach Jason Durham said, "but we didn't get it done."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Millville 0 6 0 6 - 12
Ocean City 0 3 3 7 - 13
OC - Curran 27 FG
MV - Johnson 7 run (run failed)
OC - Curran 22 FG
MV - Johnson 8 run (pass failed)
OC - Fiorentino 8 pass from Curran (Curran kick)
TEAM STATS MV OC
First Downs 11 12
Rushing 277 101
Passing 38 115
Turnovers 1 0
Rushing - Johnson 23-153, Askins 7-99 MV. Fiorentino 5-37 OC.
Passing - Robbins 6-11-1-38 MV; Curran 12-24-0-115 OC.
Receiving - Waalace 1-14, Johnson 2-15 MV.; Fiorentino 7-66 OC.
Records: Millville 3-3; Ocean City 2-3.