By Phil Anastasia
Jake Parola had a great game in the third quarter: 19 carries, 109 yards, two touchdowns.
But those 12 minutes summed up the South Jersey Group 4 championship game as well as the entire season for Parola and his Shawnee teammates.
Running behind a powerful offensive line, Parola finished with 159 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries as Shawnee beat Timber Creek 28-7 on Sunday night in a long-awaited sectional title-game rematch at Rowan University.
"He's an animal," Shawnee senior offensive tackle Eric Hawkinson said of Parola.
The imposing victory on a cold, windy night secured Shawnee's sixth sectional title and second in a row.
The Renegades beat the Chargers 31-22 last season behind burly running back Anthony DiOrio.
This season, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Parola assumed DiOrio's No. 44 jersey and his role as the team's go-to player and followed in his footsteps, running past, around and through Timber Creek tacklers on the turf at Richard Wackar Stadium in the sectional championship game.
"I have to give the credit to my offensive line," Parola said. "Those guys did a great job."
Junior quarterback Mike Welsh was 9-for-21 passing for 156 yards for Shawnee (11-1), the No. 2 seed and No. 5 team in The Inquirer Top 10 rankings.
Senior quarterback Khalil Trotman was 14-for-24 for 274 and a touchdown with an interception for top-seeded and second-ranked Timber Creek (11-1).
The Chargers, who were making their fourth consecutive appearance in a sectional final, were hurt by three turnovers as well a snap that sailed over their punter's head.
"We just wore down," Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson said of his defense. "They (Shawnee) did a great job. They're good, man. My guys gave me everything they had but they just wore down."
Shawnee's offensive line controlled the second half as the Renegades generated scoring drives of 80 and 87 yards in the third quarter.
"No better way to win," Hawkinson said of the Renegades' up-front dominance.
Shawnee's defense contained a Timber Creek team that entered the game averaging 33.8 points.
Trotman's 62-yard touchdown to Shaquese McIntyre was the Chargers' highlight. It cut the margin to 14-7, but Shawnee answered with an 11-play, 87-yard march in which Parola ran for 57 yards and caught a 19-yard pass.
"I was running downhill," Parola said.
Parola stamped an exclamation point on his performance and Shawnee's victory with a 23-yard touchdown run with three minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the game.
"I thought Jake had a chance to pop a couple," Shawnee coach Tim Gushue said. "He's so strong and so fast."
The teams had been on a collision course since last season's title game.
For the longest time, it looked like this year's game would match 11-0 teams but Shawnee fell to rival Lenape on Thanksgiving Day by a 10-7 score.
The Renegades showed no signs of a letdown after that loss. Their defense featured strong work by senior linebackers Curtis Corley, David Smith and Max Busca and junior lineman David Gajderowicz, among others.
The Shawnee offense relied heavily on its well-conditioned and well-coordinated offensive line and hard running by Parola, who finished the season with 32 touchdowns.
"We kind of thought we would have a chance to get here and we kind of thought we might see Timber Creek," said Gushue, who still was dripping from a ice-bucket bath, courtesy of some of his seniors. "We're fortunate. Our kids stepped up and play a great game against a great opponent."
Shawnee 0 7 14 7 -- 28
Timber Creek 0 0 7 0 -- 7
S: Mike Welsh 1 run (Pierson Davis kick)
S: Jake Parola 6 run (Davis kick)
T: Shaquese McIntyre 62 pass from Khalil Trotman (Tyler Coluccio kick)
S: Parola 4 run (Davis kick)
S: Parola 23 run (Davis kick)
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at email@example.com