PLEASANTVILLE — The celebration by the Pleasantville High School football team and its coaches and fans lasted several minutes on the field following the Greyhounds’ 20-7 win over Ocean City on Thursday in their annual Thanksgiving Day game.
Pleasantville’s victory was its first in the annual game since 2013, and the players took turns holding up the Mike Slaveski-Bob Thomas Memorial Award, the prize for winning the contest.
Pleasantville ended the season 8-3, a one-win improvement over last year. The Greyhounds were used to losing seasons — going 0-10 in 2015 — but have made great strides under coach Chris Sacco.
Ocean City ended its season 4-6.
Pleasantville gave up a quick touchdown to start the game but was in control most of the way after.
Pleasantville running back Mohamed Toure scored on a 2-yard run in the second quarter, and quarterback Sahmir Jones hit wide receiver Elijah Glover for 2 points to put the Greyhounds up 8-7. Pleasantville added two touchdowns, one on a 2-yard keeper by Jones before halftime and another on a 25-yard interception return by safety Brian Stalworth.
“The kids played really hard,” Sacco said. “We did good things on defense. I’m proud of the way we played after a week and a half off (following a 28-6 South Jersey Group II semifinal loss at Haddonfield on Nov. 9). The team has done so much to make the school and the community proud. Now players want to stay here, rather than go somewhere else.
“This win is special because this is the first time in a while that we’ve beaten Ocean City. We wanted to win a championship, and we didn’t quite do it, but we get to have the trophy sit here in our hallway for a year, and that’s something tangible.”
Pleasantville made a slow start as Ocean City went 60 yards in four plays for a score in the game’s first possession. Running back Kevin King set up the TD with a 44-yard run. Two plays later, quarterback Ian Aungst scored from 3 yards out.
The Greyhounds running game, led by Toure, began to dominate and eat up the clock. Toure (123 yards on 21 carries) went 2 yards up the middle for a score with 8 minutes, 27 seconds left in the half.
The Greyhounds went for 2, but were penalized. From the 7-yard line, the Greyhounds connected on the conversion to make it 8-7 as the left-handed Jones passed to Glover near the right sideline.
Jones’ keeper around the left end put the Greyhounds in control, and Stalworth’s interception all but sealed the win.
“The cold wasn’t really a factor because we practice in that, but the wind was tough,” said Jones, a 17-year-old senior and Pleasantville resident. “We saw what Ocean City was doing, and the keeper was a designed play. We knew the game would be tough, but we ran our game plan and things went smoothly.”
Ocean City still leads the series with Pleasantville 50-42-6.
“Pleasantville converted on third and fourth down,” Ocean City coach Kevin Smith said. “(Toure) really did it for them. Pleasantville has good athletes and a good pass rush. We haven’t really been able to run all year.
“I’ve never been so proud as I am of our team. I’ve never had a group that played harder or cared about it more.”
Ocean City 7 0 0 0—7
Pleasantville 0 14 0 6—20
OC—Aungst 3 run (Souto kick)
P—Toure 2 run (Glover pass from Jones)
P—Jones 20 run (pass failed)
P—Stalworth 25 interception return (pass failed)
Records—OC 4-6, Pleasantville 8-3.