Paulsboro holds off Salem for S.J. Group 1 crown
Dehron Holloway is one of the most elusive runners in South Jersey. But in the matter of his place in the pecking order, the speedy junior gets directly to the point.
Dehron Holloway is one of the most elusive runners in South Jersey.
But in the matter of his place in the pecking order, the speedy junior gets directly to the point.
"I'm the best running back in South Jersey," Holloway said just moments after leading Paulsboro to a 29-26 victory over Salem in the South Jersey Group 1 title game.
Holloway's claim has merit, but is open to debate.
What's indisputable is that Paulsboro is the best Group 1 team in South Jersey.
The Red Raiders won their 18th sectional title and second in three seasons in thrilling fashion before a huge crowd on a cold, windy Saturday afternoon at Richard Wackar Stadium on the campus of Rowan University.
Holloway ran for two touchdowns and senior quarterback Kyle Jones ran for one score and passed for another for Paulsboro (10-2).
"It never gets old," Paulsboro coach Glenn Howard said after winning his 13th sectional title since taking over the program in 1987. "They are all sweet. This one is really sweet because I don't think a lot of people thought we could do it going against a back like that."
Howard was referring to Salem senior Jon Taylor, a Wisconsin recruit and the modern state record-holder for rushing yards in a season.
Taylor ran for 183 yards and scored two touchdowns on 38 carries, but he was denied three times on two-point conversion attempts for Salem (9-3).
Those goal-line stands were symbolic of Paulsboro's defensive effort as the Red Raiders were able to contain the Rams' high-powered attack and keep their record-setting running back from taking command of the game.
"He got some runs, but we were able to slow him down," Howard said. "We contained him for the most part."
Paulsboro senior end Cherron Quarles, senior linebacker Bryce Holloway, and senior cornerback Joey Perez led the defensive effort.
"It was practice," Quarles said. "Practice makes perfect and we put 110 percent effort into practice, and then took it out in the game and focused on making it happen."
Taylor finished the season with 2,818 yards, unofficially. That's 308 more than former Glassboro star Corey Clement's former South Jersey record of 2,510.
"It was a great season," Taylor said outside the Salem locker room. "It's a tough loss, but we've faced a lot of adversity. We'll handle this.
"We had chances. We had opportunities. We just didn't take advantage of enough of them."
The 5-foot-7, 150-pound Holloway ran for 112 yards on 17 carries. His 14-yard touchdown late in the second quarter cut Salem's lead to 20-13 and gave the Red Raiders the momentum heading into the third quarter.
Holloway busted loose for a 67-yard touchdown for a 29-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
"I'm staying humble, but I believe I'm the best," Holloway said. "Our game plan was to stop Jon Taylor and that's what we did."
Jones scored Paulsboro's first score on a 9-yard run, then had a big part in one of the more remarkable scoring plays of the season, a 14-yard touchdown toss to junior Matt Pettinichio.
On the play, Jones scrambled away from a strong rush, bought time with his legs, stepped up, and fired a pass from the right sideline almost to the left corner of the end zone.
Pettinichio made a diving catch to complete the play, and Jones stamped an exclamation point on the sequence with a two-point conversion pass to Tyhere Dowd for a 21-20 lead.
After Holloway's second touchdown run, Salem junior Zaire Jones (11 carries, 178 yards, two touchdowns) shook loose for a 71-yard scoring run to cut the margin to 29-26 with five minutes, 43 seconds to play.
Salem had one last chance, but Paulsboro's defense swarmed Rams quarterback Keenan Cheeks on a fourth-and-6 play to seal the victory.
"I'm just so proud of these guys," Howard said. "The players, the coaches, everybody worked so hard to bring the championship back to Paulsboro."
Salem 6 14 0 6 - 26
Paulsboro 0 13 8 8 - 29
S: Jon Taylor 2 run (run fail)
P: Kyle Jones 9 run (Ricky Wolf kick)
S: Zaire Jones 18 run (run fail)
S: Taylor 7 run (Taylor run)
P: Dehron Holloway 14 run (kick fail)
P: Matt Pettinichio 14 pass from Jones (Tyhere Dowd pass from Jones)
P: Holloway 67 run (Pettinichio pass from Jones)
S: Jones 71 run (run fail)