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Lenape rolls over Shawnee in prep for title game

At the end of the game, after 23 carries for 113 yards, JoJo Kellum looked as if he was ready for another quarter.

At the end of the game, after 23 carries for 113 yards, JoJo Kellum looked as if he was ready for another quarter.

When he and his fellow starters were pulled from the game with more than four minutes left, there was a sense of frustration on the Lenape sideline.

They wanted to keep playing.

Even with their team ahead by 21 points. Even in a game that, on paper, was meaningless. Even with a state championship - the biggest game in the history of Lenape football - on the horizon.

"None of them wanted to come out. They were angry," said Indians coach Tim McAneney. "They just want to play football."

It's part of the simplicity that defines the brilliance of this year's Lenape team. It was on full display Thursday morning as the Indians routed host Shawnee, 31-10, in the annual Thanksgiving Day matchup.

With the win, Lenape still trails the series, 35-9-2. The record reflects years when Lenape was a doormat for Shawnee.

But those days are over.

"This win is huge for us. We wanted to be undefeated going into the state championship," said Lenape quarterback Matt Lajoie, whose team improved to 11-0, extending the program's record for most wins in a season.

Lajoie completed 5 of 9 passes for 146 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He also rushed nine times for 69 yards and a touchdown.

He was locked in, despite his team having every reason to be on cruise control.

Lenape is set to take on Timber Creek on Dec. 4 for the South Jersey Group 4 title at Rowan University. It's the first time Lenape has advanced to a state championship.

One school of thought would say that it would have been wise for Lenape to rest its starters.

But that's not how the team operates.

"You can't play football half way," McAneney said.

Lenape jumped to an early lead on the team's second play from scrimmage when Lajoie floated a 30-yard pass to a wide-open Jake Topolski, who turned the reception into a 70-yard touchdown.

From there, Lenape controlled the game with its typical no-frills, smash-mouth, clock-eating style.

That tone was set early when, with a 14-0 lead in the second quarter, the Indians turned Shawnee (8-3) away on fourth and goal from the 2-yard line.

The Indians defense was also in control from start to finish. Lenape took a 31-3 lead with nine minutes left to play. Shawnee responded with a scoring drive of its own, but it was the only drive in the second half in which Shawnee recorded a first down.

Kellum's biggest carry of the game came on fourth and 1 from the Shawnee 26 late in the fourth quarter. He found a big hole off the right guard and scampered his way to a 23-yard gain on a drive that ended with a 1-yard score by Nigel Adams that gave Lenape a 31-10 lead.

It was Kellum's last series of the game. But he wanted more. All of his teammates did.

They'll just have to wait until next week to get it.

Lenape 14 3 7 7 - 31

Shawnee 0 3 0 7 - 10

L: Jake Topolski 70 pass from Matt Lajoie (Ben Harris kick)

L: Lajoie 25 run (Harris)

S: Field goal 32 Rich Demko

L: Field goal 32 Harris

L: Muqeet Harrison 41 pass from Lajoie (Harris kick)

L: Nigel Adams 1 run (Harris kick)

S: Dan Wigley 2 run (Demko kick)