The final horn sounded, and Bo Melton started running as fast as he had during the South Jersey Group 2 championship game.
And that was saying something.
Melton, an explosive all-purpose junior, led Cedar Creek to a 28-27 victory over West Deptford in the sectional title game on Sunday at Rowan University.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Melton ran for 120 yards on nine carries, generated 71 yards on eight receptions, and threw a 38-yard touchdown pass as Cedar Creek (10-2) won the first South Jersey title in the five-year history of the program.
"He's as good as I've seen in a long time," West Deptford coach Clyde Folsom said of Melton.
Junior Gio Gismondi carried the football 18 times for 173 yards and a touchdown, and senior Nick Diaco ran for two touchdowns and passed for another for West Deptford (11-1).
The loss was heartbreaking for the Eagles, as several players were sprawled on the turf at Rowan University at the end of the game.
"We played as hard as we could play," Folsom said. "That's all we ask of our kids, leave everything you have on the field.
"Hat's off to [Cedar Creek]. They made big plays at the of the game."
Cedar Creek junior quarterback Jesse Milza was 15-for-24 passing for 189 yards and two touchdowns, both in the second half.
Cedar Creek senior Malachi Timberlake took a short pass from junior quarterback Milza, eluded a tackler, and raced up the left sideline for a 38-yard touchdown for the big play of the game with 1 minute, 13 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Junior Pat Moran's extra point gave Cedar Creek a one-point edge, and the Pirates held off the Eagles' final drive.
"Biggest play of the season," Cedar Creek coach Tim Watson said of Timberlake's catch and run.
West Deptford took a 14-0 lead on Gismondi's 4-yard scoring run and sophomore Mike Bilodeau's extra point with 19 seconds remaining in the first half.
But Cedar Creek got a spark when Melton took a draw on the next play, weaved through the secondary, and reached the West Deptford 1-yard line before the Eagles' Kyle Garrison tripped him up with a shoestring tackle after time expired in the half.
"I thought I was in," Melton said.
Said Watson: "I think that solidified to [West Deptford] what kind of player he is. They were like, 'Uh-oh.' "
Melton was a workhorse in the second half, with all of his catches and seven of his carries. He also fired a perfect strike to senior Lou Pitale on a halfback pass and tossed the two-point conversion to Milza to tie the score at 21 with 9:09 to play.
West Deptford jumped ahead, 27-21, on Diaco's 69-yard touchdown pass to senior Paz Gismondi, Gio's brother, with 3:46 left.
But Cedar Creek went 75 yards for the winning score, with Melton catching three passes for 30 yards before Timberlake's big play.
And when the final horn sounded, Melton broke loose on another long run, nearly reaching the opposite end zone.
"I was so happy I was about to run out of the stadium," Melton said. "I was just so happy for my team."
Cedar Creek 0 0 13 15 - 28
West Deptford 7 7 7 6 - 27
WD: Nick Diaco 1 run (Mike Bilodeau kick)
WD: Gio Gismondi 4 run (Bilodeau kick)
CC: Bo Melton 10 run (kick fail)
WD: Diaco 1 run (Bilodeau kick)
CC: Isaiah Watson 28 pass from Jesse Milza (Moran kick)
CC: Lou Pitale 38 pass from Melton (Milza pass from Melton)
WD: Paz Gismondi 69 pass from Diaco (kick fail)
CC: Malachi Timberlake 38 pass from Milza (Moran kick)