ATLANTIC CITY - Atlantic County's oldest Thanksgiving Day high school football rivals resumed a series that began in 1926 as visiting Holy Spirit beat Atlantic City 27-6 on Thursday.
Spartans sophomore Donta Pollock carried 38 times for 229 yards and three touchdowns as Spirit cut Atlantic City's series lead to 48-29-4.
"It didn't feel like 200 yards when I was doing it," Pollock said. "Those guys don't hit soft."
One of the defenders who hit Pollock the hardest - including a stop on a fourth-and-short play - was his brother Mykel Pollock, a senior linebacker for the Vikings.
"It's just like getting hit any other time, but since we're brothers there was a little something extra behind it," Donta Pollock said. "And he got lucky one time when he caught me with a shoelace tackle.
"We'll have to talk about that over dinner."
A scoreless first quarter was highlighted by stingy run defense by the Vikings (1-9) and a handful of early Holy Spirit miscues and penalties. The Spartans (8-3) finished with 11 penalties for 86 yards.
Holy Spirit coach Charlie Roman attributed his team's sloppy play to a poor week of practice following the team's 45-19 loss to St. Joseph-Montvale (Bergen County) in the state Non-Public III semifinals last Saturday.
"It was a disappointing loss, because of where we were and how soundly we were beaten," Roman said of last week's game.
The Spartans started gaining momentum midway through the second quarter when junior running back Anthony Sarao ran 26 yards on a fake punt. It was the second of three fake punts attempted by the Spartans. The first came on a fourth-and-22 on their first drive of the game.
"We practice fake punts more than we practice punting, and we never do them," Roman said. "So coming into this game we said if we were forced to punt, that we'd fake it."
Moments later, Pollock punched it into the end zone from 6 yards for the game's first score.
After two more Pollock touchdowns, Atlantic City cut it to 20-6 when senior quarterback Matt Ireland took an option 36 yards off the right side of his line with less than three minutes left in the third quarter.
But Holy Spirit senior wide receiver Dan McNair capped off the scoring when he outleaped a defender to snag a 32-yard touchdown pass from Joe Callahan.
McNair hauled in three passes for 107 yards in his last game for the Spartans.
"We're going to miss having Dan here next year," said Callahan, who completed 7-of-13 for 145 yards. "I am able to just throw it up, and he's able to go up and get it."
For the Vikings, the loss was disappointing, but they had reason for optimism.
"Those guys pushed us around with their smashmouth running game, and then they hit on a couple big plays," Atlantic City coach Bobby Weiss said. "We finished 1-9, but our guys gave it their best shot. And we look forward to next year, when we have eight kids coming back on both sides of the ball."
Holy Spirit is also looking forward to next year.
"Today was all about the seniors. It was nice to send them out with a win," Roman said. "But now we're turning to next year, when all of our sophomores and juniors will be juniors and seniors, and we can make a legitimate run for a state title."
Contact Robert Spahr:
Holy Spirit 0 13 7 7-27
Atlantic City 0 0 6 0-6
HS-Pollock 6 run (kick failed)
HS-Pollock 36 run (Worthington kick)
HS-Pollock 16 run (Worthington kick)
AC-Ireland 36 run (kick failed)
HS-McNair 32 pass from Callahan (Worthington kick)
Rushing 272 58
Passing 167 33
First downs 16 5
Turnovers 0 1
Rushing-Pollock 38-229, Sarao 2-41, Collins 3-6, Hurd 2-3, Callahan 1-(-7) HS; Ireland 5-26, Robinson 13-14, Bailey 10-14, Grant 1-4 AC.
Passing-Callahan 7-13-0-145, Sarnese 1-1-0-12 HS; Ireland 5-10-0-33 AC.
Receiving-McNair 3-107, Mastromateo, 2-32, Williams 1-12, Sarnese 2-6 HS; Naji 1-13, Jones 2-10, Jackson 1-9, Bailey 1-6 AC.
Records-Holy Spirit 8-3, Atlantic City 1-9.