Football: Pennsville beats Clayton for SJ 1 title
By Phil Anastasia
Inquirer Staff Writer
Four touchdowns by four players.
The formula was fitting for Pennsville in the Eagles' 28-6 victory over Clayton in the South Jersey Group 1 title game on Saturday at Rowan University.
A balanced team without a single stand-out player, Pennsville completed an emotional season with a convincing victory on a warm, sunny afternoon at Richard Wackar Stadium.
"Team -- that's us," Pennsville senior all-purpose Josh Van Blarcom said. "For us, teamwork is the biggest thing."
Pennsville dedicated the season to senior Kyle Pszenny, a key member of the football program for three seasons who was severely injured in an accident in early June.
Pszenny was present at Saturday's title game, and his teammates brought his wheelchair to midfield for the trophy presentation.
"We did it for him," Pennsville senior two-way lineman Ryan Simpkins said of Pszenny.
The victory earned Pennsville (11-1) the second sectional title in the program's history and the first since the 1981 team won the Group 2 crown.
Juniior quarterback P.J. Halter was 9-for-12 passing for 162 yards and a touchdown for Pennsville.
Senior wide receiver Jeremy Boucher caught five passes for 126 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles.
"I did even better than I thought I could," Boucher said.
Clayton (9-3) drove inside the Pennsville's 20-yard line four times but scored just once. The Clippers were hurt by untimely penalties as well as a crucial fumble that ended a drive that reached the Eagles' four-line on the first possession of the second half.
"I give Pennsville credit -- that's a well-coached team," Clayton coach Marvin Tucker said. "But we hurt ourselves so many times. I'm proud of the kids. They had a good season.
"But we didn't play as well as we needed to play today."
Boucher caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Halter to give Pennsville a 21-0 lead late in the first half.
"Any lead is big but in a game like this it's really important," Simpkins said.
Pennsville took the opening kickoff and went 74 yards in 12 plays, with strong running from junior Brennan Rieco and sophomore Nick Bard as well as a key 10-yard pass from Halter to junior tight end Rob Saulin on third-and-5.
Rieco capped the drive by taking a pitch and throwing a halfback pass for a 31-yard touchdown to junior Logan Johnston, who made a leaping catch in the end zone.
Halter completed two passes to Boucher for 57 yards on Pennsville's next scoring drive. Bard capped the march with a 16-yard burst around right end and into the end zone for a 14-0 lead midway in the second quarter.
Clayton got on the board when senior Tyreek Jackson scored from two yards out with 15 seconds left in the first half.
But Pennsville took control with another long drive in the third quarter, and Rieco's one-yard touchdown run made it 28-6 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
"I couldn't be more proud of these guys," Pennsville coach Ryan Wood said.
Clayton 0 6 0 0 -- 6
Pennsville 7 14 0 7 -- 28
P: Logan Johnston 31 pass from Brennan Rieco (Johnston kick)
P: Nick Bard 16 run (Johnston kick)
P: Jeremy Boucher 27 pass from P.J. Halter (Johnston kick)
C: Tyreek Jackson 2 run (run fail)
P: Rieco 1 run (Johnston kick)
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