The Williamstown defense has a way of making games feel boring for the opposing crowd.
This was the homecoming game, senior night at Shawnee. And the crowd was being lulled to sleep.
Every spark was stomped out. Every time it looked like something was going to happen for Shawnee, it just didn’t.
“We wanted it more. We’ve talked about it all year. ... We wanted it more upfront, and we wanted more in the secondary,” said defensive end Donovan Ezeiruaku, who had two of his team’s four sacks as Williamstown shut out Shawnee, 17-0, on Friday night, improving to 8-0 and clinching a share of the West Jersey Football League American Division title.
This was Williamstown’s fifth shutout of the season. The team has allowed only 34 points so far. This was also the second time in three games that Shawnee (6-2) had been shutout after losing 48-0 to Woodrow Wilson on Oct. 11.
Friday night’s shutout had more to do with a dominant performance by the Williamstown defense than any deficiencies by the Renegades. And it didn’t help that two of Shawnee’s starting offensive lineman were knocked out of the game in the first half.
“I’m so proud of this defense,” said defensive end and Michigan recruit Aaron Lewis, who knocked down a pass during a critical stretch in the fourth quarter when the Williamstown defense, holding a 10-0 lead, ended any hope Shawnee had at a comeback.
Shawnee had only three first downs entering the fourth quarter.
But the offense started to click late. Quarterback Matt Welsey hit Tom Papa for a 33-yard pass to the 9-yard line. But a sack by Rae-Sean Rucker on third down knocked Shawnee far enough back to force a 33-yard field goal that fell short.
“We worked all week. We knew [Welsey] was a scrambler, a lefty, and we just had to contain,” said Ezeiruaku, who said he felt the tension as the game wore on. “We did a good job in the first half. We had to close it out in the second half, and that’s exactly what we did.”
On Shawnee’s final drive, the Renegades again worked the ball down to Williamstown’s 15-yard line before two sacks — one by Ezeiruaku and one by Joseph Racobaldo — set up a fourth-and-long that ended in an incompletion with 3 minutes to play.
“I think inconsistency is our biggest problem right now,” said Shawnee coach Tim Gushue. “But Williamstown is an excellent football team. No question. And they outplayed us.”
Gushue said he was pleased with his team’s defensive performance against a Braves offense that has shown a penchant for big plays this year.
The Braves offense was held in check for most of the night, although quarterback Dougie Brown was able to extend drives and manage the tempo to help keep the Braves in control in the second half.
One of the few big plays in the game came when running back Christian Forman broke free for a 67-yard touchdown after Shawnee’s failed final drive to send the crowd headed to the exits with 1:17 left.
“This game is another piece of the pie,” Ezeiruaku said. “We want to go back to MetLife and [win a state title].”
Williamstown 0 7 3 7 — 17
Shawnee 0 0 0 0 — 0
W: Dougie Brown 9 run (Brendan Amico kick)
W: Amico 23 field goal