MILLVILLE — This appeared to be a season in which the Millville High School football team would overcome every obstacle to win a South Jersey championship.
It didn’t turn out that way.
Fourth-seeded Shawnee rallied in the fourth quarter to beat top-seeded Millville 28-26 in a thrilling South Jersey Group IV semifinal in which 20 points were scored in the final 68 seconds Saturday afternoon.
Your Morning Kickstart is delivered to your inbox 7 a.m. daily. Make sure you don’t miss out on the latest in news, entertainment, weather, and sports.
Millville (6-4) had a chance to tie the game with a two-point conversion with 18 seconds left, but Shawnee deflected a pass away.
“The kids did a great job fighting,” Millville coach Dennis Thomas said. “We fell short. That’s it.”
Millville hurt itself with four turnovers and a pair of bad snaps on punts.
“Shawnee did a good job. Congrats to those guys,” Thomas said. “But we turned the ball over more than we have all season long. That kind of plagued us.”
Both teams experienced a wide range of emotions in the final minutes.
Shawnee freshman quarterback Matt Welsey threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to running back Tom Rebstock with 1 minute, 8 seconds left in the game to tie the score at 20. Joe Dalsey kicked the extra point to break the tie, and Shawnee never trailed again.
“I’m at a loss for words.” Welsey said. “It’s just crazy.”