By Phil Anastasia
By his own admission, Rodney Williams made a bad pass with five minutes and 10 seconds remaining in the game.
He asked his teammates to give him a chance to make up for it.
"Coach always says, 'If you do something wrong, look your teammates in the eye,'" Williams said. "I did that. I knew my defense would give me another chance."
Williams scrambled 21 yards for the winning score with 1:33 on the clock, sparking Cherry Hill West to a 30-24 victory over Paul VI in the WJFL opener for both teams on Monday night.
The game-winning run capped a sensational performance for the Syracuse-bound Williams in the first outing of his senior season.
After missing six games as a junior with a hamstring injury, Williams burst out of the gate on a cool night on the Lions' home field.
The 5-11, 180-pound Williams had a hand -- or a foot -- in all the Lions' points. He ran for two TDs. He passed for two TDs. He kicked two extra points. He ran for a two-point conversion and passed for a two-point conversion.
"Rodney was electric," Paul VI coach John Doherty said. "He's another Bill Belton."
Doherty was referring to the former Winslow Twp. star and current Penn State running back.
Paul VI got a big game from junior wide receiver Irvin Charles, an emerging star. The 6-4, 200-pound Irvin caught seven passes for 190 yards and broke loose for a 90-yard touchdown reception that gave the Eagles a 24-22 lead in the third quarter.
Paul VI senior quarterback Alec Vignola was 15-for-29 passing for 264 yards and a touchdown.
Williams was 6-for-12 passing for 103 yards and two TDs and ran 8 times for 100 yards and two TDs.
But with Cherry Hill West on the brink of a go-ahead score, Williams threw behind his receiver in the end zone and Paul VI sophomore Chris Randle made a diving interception in the end zone.
"It was my fault," Williams said.
But CHW's defense rose up and forced Paul VI into a three-and-out. The Lions took over at the Paul VI 49 with 3:15 on the clock.
After runs by Tyrone Williams (14 carries, 78 yards) and JaQuan Pratt-Gonzalez (9 carries, 41 yards), Rodney Williams fired a 20-yard pass to Geronimo Santana, who made a tough catch at the 21-yard line.
Williams then dropped back, slipped through the line, broke down the right sideline and cut back at the five, eluding a tackler and reaching the end zone.
"That's who Rodney is," CH West coach Brian Wright said. "He makes up for his mistakes and he does it quickly."
Paul VI drove to the CH West 28 behind Vignola, who hit junior Matt McKeown for 15 and 14 yards and Stefone Moore-Green for 14 yards.
But a holding penalty pushed the Eagles back and the Lions' Dwuane Allen intercepted Vignola's desperation pass in the end zone on the game's final play.
"Our kids are starting to believe," Wright said.
Paul VI 7 10 7 0 -- 24
CH West 7 15 0 8 -- 30
PVI: Stefone Moore-Green 5 run (Gavin Sentak kick)
CHW: John Bendig 30 pass from Rodney Williams (Williams kick)
PVI: Sentak 28 FG
CHW: Williams 28 run (Williams kick)
CHW: Quincy Jenkins 34 pass from Williams (Williams run)
PVI: Lonnie Moore 65 kickoff return (Sentak kick)
PVI: Irvin Charles 90 pass from Alec Vignola (Sentak kick)
CHW: Williams 21 run (Jenkins pass from Williams)
Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.