The Paulsboro defense, protecting an eight-point lead with less than 40 seconds to play, stuffed Salem running back Ramere Nock twice at the goal line on Saturday, and the host Red Raiders won, 28-20, in the South Jersey Group 1 semifinal.
“We talk about it’s not how you start the game, it’s how you finish the game,” Paulsboro coach Glenn Howard said. “You have to play for four quarters.”
With the dramatic victory, Paulsboro (9-1) moved on to play Penns Grove (9-1) in the South Jersey Group 1 Final on Dec. 2 at 2:30 p.m. at Rowan.
In addition to the goal line stand, there were many big plays in the game. Paulsboro’s Dehron Holloway, who entered the game with 24 touchdowns, scored two touchdowns, the second one being a 19-yard run in the fourth quarter that turned out to be the difference in the game. On defense, Holloway also stripped the ball from three different Salem players.
The senior’s first takeaway was on Salem’s second drive of the game when he ripped the ball out of running back Zaire Jones’ hands to put the Red Raiders inside the Salem 20 yard-line. Holloway went on to score from a yard out to give Paulsboro a 7-6 lead.
“It feels good,” Holloway said. “Just playing for Paulsboro has taught me to never give up until there’s zero seconds left on the clock. Just keep on punching and fighting. That’s what we did today.”
“Dehron was really big,” Howard said. “He’s done an excellent job of [forcing turnovers] his whole career. That’s something he doesn’t do just today but last year, earlier this year. He has a knack of doing that.”
Salem (7-3) looked strong in the first half and took a 14-7 lead going into the break. Quarterback Jamael Bundy threw for 128 yards in the first half on 8-of-13 passing and threw a 25-yard touchdown to Justin Burris. Jones, who had 26 touchdowns this season before the game, had 60 yards on 12 runs and an 11-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter. The Rams were also strong defensively, limiting Holloway and holding the defending Group 1 champions to one score.
Once the second half came around, though, things turned in Paulsboro’s favor.
After Jones scored his second touchdown of the game, on a two-yard run, the Rams were called for numerous penalties, and three offensive penalties in the beginning of the fourth quarter led to a third-and-long from their own 27. The Red Raiders blocked the ensuing punt, and Marcus Scott returned the block to tie the game at 20. Salem got a break when it blocked Paulsboro’s extra point kick with 10 minutes to play.
But Holloway answered with the game winner when he ran into the end zone from 19 yards out with 6:19 left. He also ran in for the two-point conversion to give Paulsboro the eight-point lead.
“I think the amount of turnovers we got was huge,” Howard said. “I mean, Dehron was really big. He’s done an excellent job of [forcing turnovers] his whole career. That’s something he doesn’t do just today, but last year, earlier this year. He has a knack of doing that.”
Salem 6 8 6 0 — 20
Paulsboro 7 0 7 14 — 28
S: Justin Burris 25 pass from Jamael Bundy (run failed)
P: Dehron Holloway 1 run (Ricky Wolf kick)
S: Zaire Jones 11 run (Jamael Bundy run)
P: Bhayshul Tuten 14 pass from Colin McCarthy (Wolf kick)
S: Zaire Jones 2 run (run failed)
P: Marcus Scott 27 punt block (kick failed)
P: Dehron Holloway 19 run (Holloway run)