TRENTON — The Vineland High School football team needed a win.
The Fighting Clan drove more than 120 miles round trip to get it Saturday.
Tyreem Powell threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to propel the Fighting Clan to a 20-12 win over Trenton Central in a West Jersey Football League interdivison game. With the win, Vineland (2-3) boosted its Group V playoff hopes and ended its two-game losing streak.
“It was a long road trip,” Powell said. “We knew we had to come here focused. We needed this one. We had to get in the win column.”
Powell woke up at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. He had to get to school early to meet with the Vineland trainer to prepare for the game.
Powell, who has verbally committed to attend Virginia Tech on an NCAA Division I scholarship, started this season at tight end and projects as a defensive back in college. But he took over at quarterback in a 44-10 loss to Timber Creek on Sept. 27.
Powell has experience at the position. He played quarterback at the end of last season, leading the Fighting Clan to the South Jersey Group V semifinals.
“All of us together, the coaches and players, decided (Powell playing quarterback) was in the best interest of all parties,” Vineland coach Dan Russo said of the move.
“Powell is a Division I athlete.”
Ryan Shelton, who started this season at quarterback, moved to tight end and linebacker. On Saturday, Shelton recovered a fumble and caught a pass for 12 yards.
“Shelton gives us more depth at linebacker,” Russo said. “He’s the strongest kid on the team.”
Meanwhile, Powell completed 6 of 12 passes for 123 yards and ran 12 times for 57 yards Saturday.
“Wherever my coaches need me, I’m going to play,” Powell said. “I like controlling the team. We’re all on one page.”
Trenton (3-2) played Saturday without quarterback James Hubbard, who was out with an ankle injury. Still, the Tornadoes built an early 6-0 lead.
The Fighting Clan ran just three plays from scrimmage in the first quarter. But Vineland took the lead for good by scoring on its first two possessions of the second.
Powell finished the first scoring drive with a 39-yard touchdown pass to running back Jonathan Toney Jr. to make it 7-6. Powell has worked on his passing since last season.
“I don’t want people to look at me as just a running quarterback,” he said. “I want to be dynamic — throw and run — and be a dual threat.”
Vineland’s second scoring drive began after Shelton recovered a fumble at the Trenton 49-yard line. Powell finished that possession with an 18-yard TD run.
The Vineland defense maintained the lead with some critical plays.
With Vineland ahead 20-12, Trenton had the ball inside the Vineland 20 with 2 minutes, 46 seconds left in the game.
On third down, Vineland defensive lineman Joshua Bennett stripped the Trenton quaterback of the ball. Fighting Clan linebacker Barry Turner recovered the fumble.
The Vineland offense then ran out the clock.After the game, Russo told the Vineland players to smile and be energetic.
The Fighting Clan plays one of South Jersey’s toughest schedules. Vineland’s three losses are to teams with a combined record of 12-3. The Fighting Clan hosts perennial power St. Joseph (4-1) on Saturday.
“This gets us back on track,” Russo said.
“We’ll keep doing the best we can. We’re going to win some games. We’re doing our best to hang with these elite programs. We’re not there yet, but we’re trying to be. We’re just going to keep building for the future.”
Vineland 0 14 6 0 — 20
Trenton Central 6 0 0 6 — 12
TC — Brown Jr. 14 run (pass failed)
VL — Toney Jr. 39 pass from Powell (Garton kick)
VL — Powell 18 run (Garton kick)
VL — Broome 6 run (Kick blocked)
TC — Brown Jr. 24 run (kick missed)
Records — Vineland 2-3, Trenton Central 3-2