Shawnee takes down rival Lenape, 27-14
It was one of those moments, Michael Welsh said, when you're not exactly focused on the bigger picture. It was fourth and goal from the 1-yard line. The game was tied late in the fourth quarter. It was Thanksgiving Day - and across from Welsh was his Shawnee football team's oldest rival.
It was one of those moments, Michael Welsh said, when you're not exactly focused on the bigger picture.
It was fourth and goal from the 1-yard line. The game was tied late in the fourth quarter. It was Thanksgiving Day - and across from Welsh was his Shawnee football team's oldest rival.
Sure, the Renegades' have a bigger game on the horizon. They play Timber Creek next week for the South Jersey Group 4 championship.
But somewhere along the line Thursday, an essentially meaningless showdown with Lenape turned into an emotionally charged, smash-mouth game.
"And we wanted to win," said Welsh, the Renegades' senior quarterback.
He sneaked the ball around the edge for the go-ahead touchdown on fourth and goal with 3 minutes, 45 seconds left to help Shawnee escape with a 27-14 road win.
Shawnee improved to 35-8-2 in the annual Thanksgiving matchup. It was payback for the Renegades after being upset at home by Lenape last season.
"It was a huge moment for our senior class, and it gives us confidence going into Timber Creek," said Welsh, who finished 10 of 21 passing for 146 yards and a touchdown.
With Welsh's rushing attempts limited, Michael Githens saw the bulk of the touches on offense, finishing with 23 carries for 64 yards.
But a physical, gritty performance by the Lenape defense helped the Indians largely control the game up front.
The emotion was evident for an Indians team playing the final game of a historic season in which they finished 8-3 and won the program's first playoff game.
"We're upset, but we're happy with how hard we fought," said senior quarterback Bryce Long. "It was a great season."
Playing without top running back Joseph Kellum, injured in last week's playoff loss to Toms River North, it took the Lenape offense until the third quarter to find its footing.
The Indians capped a 67-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Jordan Davis on the final play of the third quarter to cut Shawnee's lead to 14-7.
Lenape forced Shawnee (9-2) to go three and out on the ensuing drive.
Three plays later - highlighted by a 37-yard completion to Josh Flowers - Long punched the ball in from the 1-yard line to tie the game.
But momentum shifted with Lenape in punt formation on its next drive. The snap was low, and Shawnee recovered at the Indians' 4-yard line. The play set up Welsh's go-ahead touchdown.
Shawnee ended the game with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown by Anthony Mague (five catches, 77 yards, one touchdown each on offense and defense) with no time left.
"I knew this would be a tough, physical battle, there was no doubt about it," said Shawnee coach Tim Gushue. "We were more opportunistic today. And it was a good win.
"And just as nice: We're leaving here with nobody on crutches."
Shawnee 7 0 7 13 - 27
Lenape 0 0 7 7 - 14
S: Anthony Mague 14 pass from Michael Welsh (Rich
S: Welsh 10 run (Demko kick)
L: Jordan Davis 2 run (Ben Harris kick)
L: Bryce Long 1 run (Harris kick)
S: Welsh 1 run (Demko kick)
S: Mague 37 interception return (no attempt)