WILLIAMSTOWN — The St. Augustine Prep football team entered its game against undefeated Williamstown on Friday night riding a five-game winning streak.
The teams, both ranked in The Press Elite 11, battled four quarters to determine who would capture the West Jersey Football League American Division title.
And on a chilly night, the visiting Hermits could not overcome a Williamstown defense that had allowed just 42 points all season prior to Friday.
The Braves scored two touchdowns late in the second quarter en route to a 14-7 victory over Hermits that clinched the division title.
The Hermits, No. 4 in the Elite 11, fell to 6-3. The Braves, No. 1 in the rankings, improved to 9-0.
“Well-played championship game,” St. Augustine coach Pete Lancetta said. “We just came up a little short.”
Isaiah Raikes scored the game’s first touchdown on a 6-yard run that capped a drive in which the Hermits went 57 yards on 15 plays. The drive chewed up nine minutes of the first quarter.
After forcing the Braves to go three-and-out on the first drive of the game and then scoring, St. Augustine looked to have momentum.
“It was nice, and it was early in the game, and we came out to a good start,” Raikes, 17, of Deptford, said. “But that wasn’t the end of the game, all our players knew that. We came out strong; we have to finish.”
Raikes, a junior who also plays defensive tackle, kept repeating the word “finish.”
And Lancetta agreed.
“It was a nice way to start,” Lancetta said. “Isaiah had nice runs on that drive, but he plays both ways, and we can’t keep feeding him the ball. … But it was a nice way to start it.”
Lancetta said both teams played great defense. The Hermits kept the Williamstown offense quiet for all but the last four minutes in the second quarter.
The Braves’ Wade Inge scored on a 20-yard TD run with 4 minutes, 2 seconds left in the first half, and quarterback Jonathan Collins connected with Damonte Campbell for a 32-yard TD pass with 54.7 seconds left until halftime.
The Hermits’ Tom O’Chiuda recovered a fumble that led to a red-zone stop for the Williamstown defense that has only allowed 10 or more points in a game just once this season.
“We just have to keep working hard in practice and keep getting better every day,” Raikes said. “With everything we do, we’ve got to get better all the time. We do good during practice, but we’ve got to get better. We do good on the games, but we’ve got to get better.”
Lancetta and the Hermits will now wait to see which team they will face in the state Non-Public Group IV playoffs. The bracket includes state powers such as Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco.
“We got to find out who we are playing first,” Lancetta said. “We’ve been here before after a loss this year (to St. Joseph), and the kids went on a five-game winning streak, so ...”
The Hermits are not finished yet.
St. Augustine Prep: 7 0 0 0—7
Williamstown 0 14 0 0—14
SA — Raikes 6 run (Snyder kick)
W — Inge 20 run (Pomerleau kick)
W — Campbell 32 pass (Pomerleau kick)