It took Williamstown a little time to get started, but after going scoreless in the first quarter, the Braves reverted to the form that has made them the No. 1 team in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings.
With junior Marques Little making big plays on both sides of the ball in the second quarter, Williamstown earned 43-20 win over Southern Regional on Friday night in the South Jersey Group 5 championship game before an overflow crowd at Rowan University.
Williamstown completed its season at 12-0 and won its first sectional title since the start of NJSIAA football playoffs in 1974. Southern finished 9-3.
For a team that had posted just one playoff victory before this season, Williamstown won its three playoff games by a combined 104-38.
"There were some jitters at the beginning," said Little, who rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. "After the first two drives, we started picking up the momentum and rolled."
Trailing by 6-0 after one quarter, the Braves took a 21-12 halftime lead on three second-quarter touchdown runs.
Little, a blazing-quick, 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior, tied the score, 6-6, with an 88-yard run off a pitch on the first play of the second period.
"I saw the seam, cut, and didn't stop running," Little said. "I felt the momentum and the crowd coming along after that."
Senior Abe Gonzalez, who entered the game with 1,291 rushing yards, gave Southern a 12-6 lead on a 4-yard run.
Junior fullback John Chamberlin tied the score again with a 2-yard run, completing a seven-play, 67-yard drive with 7:15 left in the second quarter.
The Braves then went ahead on a two-point conversion, faking a kick before holder and quarterback Doug Banks found Julian Taylor in the end zone.
"It means the world to me to be part of this team and know I was part of the first team in school history to win the championship," said Chamberlin, who rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
Little set up the third touchdown with an interception and 32-yard return that put the ball on the Braves' 44-yard line with 2:44 left in the half.
He then gained 35 yards on four carries during the ensuing drive, finishing matters on a 7-yard touchdown run with 15 seconds left in the half.
The Braves continued the momentum with a TD on their first third-quarter drive. Chamberlin scored on a 2-yard run, one play after taking a screen pass from Banks for 53 yards. Banks then hit Little for a two-point conversion pass, extending the lead to 29-12 with 9:29 left in the third quarter.
On the next series, Williamstown's Julian Taylor forced a fumble, and teammate Pete Halloran recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
By then, the Braves' slow start was a distant memory.
Williamstown's ground game seemed to wear down the Rams.
"They are very fast, block very well, are crisp with their game. They have a good fullback and have the parts that can run their offense, and they are dangerous," Southern coach Chuck Donohue said of the Braves.
Southern cut the lead to 36-20 and then recovered an onside kick early in the fourth quarter, but its comeback attempt ended when Williamstown's Kali Boyce returned an interception 85 yards for the game's final score.
Southern Regional 6 6 0 8 – 20
Williamstown 0 21 15 7 – 43
S: Mike Gesicki 21 pass from Dan Higgins (kick failed)
W: Marques Little 88 run (kick failed)
S: Abe Gonzalez 4 run (kick failed)
W: John Chamberlin 2 run (Julian Taylor pass from Doug Banks)
W: Little 7 run (Matt Peacock kick)
W: Chamberlin 2 run (Little pass from Banks).
W: Pete Halloran fumble recovery in end zone (Peacock kick)
S: Gonzalez 2 run (Nick Hem pass from Higgins)
W: Kali Boyce 85 interception return (Peacock kick)