By Phil Anastasia
For the second week in a row, the Williamstown football team was down double digits.
For the second week in a row, the Braves rallied for a dramatic victory.
"I actually think we play better when we're behind," Williamstown senior fullback John Chamberlin said after leading the Braves to a 13-10 victory over Cherokee in a West Jersey Football League American Division game on Friday night.
Chamberlin, a 5-foot-9, 205-pound athlete, carried the football 30 times for 157 yards and scored both touchdowns for Williamstown (3-0), the No. 1 team in The Inquirer Top 25 rankings.
Chamberlin burst off the left side and ran untouched into the end zone on a fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line with 4:36 remaining as Williamstown completed its comeback from a 10-0 deficit to secure its 16th consecutive victory.
Williamstown rallied from a 14-0 deficit to beat Shawnee 17-14 on Sept. 20.
"This group doesn't give up," Williamstown coach Frank Fucetola said. "They faced adversity two weeks in a row and they found a way."
Senior running back Matt Stickney gained 93 yards on 17 carries and senior end Troy Domenick and Jake Powell led a strong defensive for No. 3 Cherokee (2-1).
"Our defense did an awesome job against a very good offense," Cherokee coach P.J. Mehigan said. "But we need to score more than 10 points. That's on me."
Williamstown went 12-0 last season and won the South Jersey Group 5 title. The Braves rarely faced deficits and won most games by a comfortable margin.
But this year's team has trailed in two of its first three games. The Braves have rebuilt front lines and featured many athletes who weren't on the field in key situations in 2012.
"We're so young," Chamberlin said. "We're only going to get better."
Playing before a large crowd on a cool, clear night, Cherokee seized command as Rob Agnone's interception led to an 11-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Osler to Max Hilton-Lovett midway in the first quarter.
Ken Ravel added a 41-yard field goal to make it 10-0 early in the second quarter.
"We hurt ourselves with some mistakes," Fucetola said.
Chamberlin was the key to Williamstown's comeback, along with the Braves' defense.
Chamberlin carried eight times for 54 yards and the touchdown as Williamstown went 80 yards on 13 running plays and cut the deficit to 10-6 late in the first half.
"He's an animal," Mehigan said of Chamberlin. "Marques (Little) is fantastic but he (Chamberlin) is the engine."
Williamstown hurt itself with penalties in the third quarter but the Braves took advantage of a big break when senior Eric Coney recovered a muffed punt at the Cherokee 31 with a little more than seven minutes to play.
"That was a huge play by Eric Coney," Fucetola said.
Williamstown needed 12 plays to cover the 31 yards. They converted three fourth downs. The last one was at the Cherokee two, and Chamberlin went untouched into the end zone.
"We motioned away and ran the other way," Fucetola said. "He walked in."
Williamstown's defense sealed the win as Little and Dylan Hammond made key tackles and Mark Ellis tipped a fourth-down pass.
"We showed a lot of heart," Fucetola said.
Cherokee 7 3 0 0 -- 10
Williamstown 0 6 0 7 -- 13
C: Max Hilton-Lovett 11 pass from Trevor Osler (Ken Ravel kick)
C: Ravel 41 FG
W: John Chamberlin 1 run (kick fail)
W: Chamberlin 2 run (Kevin Gilmore kick)
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