GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Absegami High School quarterback Rashad Kinlaw came back from a broken leg and scored the first time he touched the ball in his season debut Friday night.
Absegami running back Tyler Bing took turns wowing the crowd. Bing ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns, while David Hood gained 148 yards and scored twice.
The Braves scored often and quickly and beat Hammonton 47-33 in a Cape-Atlantic League American Conference game. The victory should clinch Absegami (5-2) a spot in the South Jersey Group V playoffs, which start Nov. 9-10.
"I never played on another team like this," Hood said. "One of us clicks, the others click.
"We all just link up and go hard."
But for all that flashy offense, it was the Absegami defense that established the tone.
Braves linebacker Darryl Loveland stripped a Hammonton ball carrier on the first play from scrimmage. Emil Robinson recovered the fumble at the Blue Devils' 3-yard line. Two plays later, Bing dove across the goal line to give the Braves a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes, 34 seconds left in the first quarter. Absegami led the rest of the way.
"Throughout the years I've been here, we've never caught breaks like that," Bing, a senior, said of the turnover. "That started the game off perfect, and we just made a statement from that point on. We just kept playing hard."
Both teams needed a win to improve their playoff chances. Absegami, which is ranked No. 7 in The Press Elite 11, hadn't beaten Hammonton since 2006.
The game also was highly anticipated because of Kinlaw's return. Kinlaw, who verbally committed last March to attend the University of Notre Dame, hadn't played for the Braves since he broke his right leg against St. Augustine Prep on Oct. 21, 2011. Kinlaw recovered from that injury but then rebroke the leg playing for Team USA football in June.
Kinlaw made his debut on the Braves' second possession Friday. On his first play, he ran right up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown to put Absegami ahead 14-6 with 6:24 left in the first quarter.
"It felt good to get back in the end zone," Kinlaw said.
The Absegami offense dominated the game. The Braves scored on seven of their 12 possessions.
"I thought our offensive line did a great job," Braves coach Dennis Scuderi Jr. said. "There's a lot of little things we did - the fullback blocking, the wide receivers blocking on the edge and all the reads (Mike Dolan) makes at the quarterback position."
The Braves' most entertaining touchdown came on the final play of the first quarter when Bing handed the ball to Hood on an inside reverse. Hood then sprinted 69 yards for a score to give the Braves a 20-6 lead.
Hammonton (4-3) tried to rally behind the passing of quarterback Christian Mortellite, who threw for 192 yards and four touchdowns.
But Absegami maintained at least a two-score advantage in the second half. Kinlaw added a 15-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Almost as important as his touchdown runs was the fact that he got tackled and bounced up without incident.
"In my mind, that let me know I'm back 100 percent," Kinlaw said. "I got bounced around and got back up."
Kinlaw left the field with a smile, and he wasn't the only Absegami player to do so.
The Braves' offensive effort had the whole team feeling good about the rest of the season.
"We knew this was a big game," Scuderi said. "We knew we had to solidify ourselves as a playoff team. It was big for us to come out and score the way we did."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Hammonton 6 6 14 7-33
Absegami 20 6 14 7-47
AB-Bing 3 run (Della Vecchia kick)
HAM-Carnesale 41 pass from Mortellite (kick blocked)
AB-Kinlaw 17 run (Della Vecchia kick)
AB-Hood 69 run (kick blocked)
HAM-Da. Williams 4 run (kick missed)
AB-Bing 4 run (kick missed)
AB-Kinlaw 15 run (Della Vecchia kick)
HAM-Do. Williams 18 pass from Mortellite (Salmon kick)
AB-Bing 11 run (Della Vecchia kick)
HAM-Carnesale 9 pass from Mortellite (Salmon kick)
AB-Hood 12 run (Della Vecchia kick)
HAM-Mento 17 pass from Mortellite (Salmon kick)
Rushing-Hammonton, Da. Williams 16-66. Absegami, Hood 14-148, Bing 16-147, Kinlaw 5-39.
Passing-Hammonton, Mortellite 13-23-0-192. Absegami, Dolan 2-3-0-16, Kinlaw 0-1-0-0.
Receiving-Hammonton, Porteons 4-63, Carnesale 2-50. Absegami, Bing 1-12.
Records-Hammonton 4-3; Absegami 5-2