By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
HAMMONTON — Kenny Smith said he felt great after host Hammonton knocked off Timber Creek, 28-7, on Friday night to improve to 6-1 overall and a sparkling 4-0 inside the West Jersey Football League’s Memorial Division.
This despite being tackled as a running back 30 times, playing nearly every down as a defensive back and going back to receive punts and kickoffs. It’s good to be young and full of energy.
Once again it was the Kenny Smith show in Hammonton on a Friday night — something Blue Devils fans have grown quite accustomed to the past year-and-a-half. Just keep giving No. 3 in blue the rock and good things are bound to happen.
Smith carried the ball 30 times for 100 yards even and scored three rushing touchdowns in the Bunting Family Pharmacy Game of the Week. Just for good measure, he tossed a receiving touchdown — just so nobody thinks he’s a one-dimensional back.
“I feel great. We were prepared for this. We knew what kind of game this was going to be. To come out here and execute like we did today feels great. Our line has been the key to our success. They come out here and give a great push every play. They 100 percent, day in, day out, every game and every practice. Those are the guys getting it done,” said Smith, who came into the game with nearly 800 yards in six games. “We thought that we were the more physical team and that’s the way we wanted to come out and play. Playing with a confidence like that, and showing what we can do on the field, feels great.”
Hammonton (6-1, 4-0 West Jersey Football League Memorial Division) struck first, scoring on its first possession after the Blue Devils’ defense forced Timber Creek (5-2, 1-2 WJFL Memorial) to punt. That would be a theme that played out throughout much of the evening.
A short punt set Hammonton up at the Timber Creek 44-yard line, and Smith and the Blue Devils’ offensive line — anchored by guys like Elijah Church (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) and Christian Medina (6-3, 240) got to work. Smith converted a third down at the Chargers’ 9-yard line, and a few plays later, facing third down again, Smith plowed his way in from a yard out to put Hammonton up 7-0.
The Blue Devils tacked on another touchdown late in the first half when Justin Doughty — Hammonton’s red zone quarterback — rolled right and found Smith wide open in the back of the end zone for a 7-yard score that pushed the lead to 14-0 with 1:24 left before halftime.
Hammonton’s only real defensive lapse came on Timber Creek’s next possession, when Chargers quarterback Victor Oquendo hooked up with speedy slot receiver Jonathan Harris on a 40-yard touchdown straight over the middle. That shaved the deficit to 14-7 heading into halftime, but in the second half the Chargers got a full dose of Kenny Smith as Hammonton continued to pound away at the rushing attack.
The Blue Devils rushed 59 times for 225 yards, as Lucas Goehringer added 47 yards on 12 carries and Doughty chipped in 55 yards. Defensively, Timber Creek did have 173 passing yards but the Blue Devils limited the Chargers to minus-28 rushing yards on just 12 carries.
“I feel great. We were prepared for this. We knew what kind of game this was going to be. To come out here and execute like we did today feels great. Our line has been the key to our success. They come out here and give a great push every play. They 100 percent, day in, day out, every game and every practice. Those are the guys getting it done,” Smith said. “We knew they were going to try to hit on some big plays, so we tried to limit that as much as we could.”
“It feels good. We worked all week for this, and we’ve been working all year — long days in the weight room, long, hot practices in the summer. We’ve been putting the work in,” said senior defensive end Ky Pressley, a transfer from Camden Catholic prior to the season. “We knew we had to stop the run and force them to pass, and we just went out and executed. We’ve been working. It’s not a surprise to us. We’ve been doing this all season. We feed off each other. I eat, we all eat. We’re not selfish, we work together as a unit and that’s why we’re so close.”
Hammonton gave up an interception on its first possession of the third quarter and went 3-and-out on its next, but early in the fourth quarter Smith scored again, this time on a fourth-down run from the 2-yard line. Drew Fields’ third extra point of the game pushed the lead to 21-7, and later in the fourth quarter Smith capped things off with a 3-yard touchdown run.
The Blue Devils’ only blemish this season was a 29-14 loss to Mainland on Sept. 23, and in their six other games they’ve scored 20 points or more each time. And in those six wins, no opponent has scored more than 14 points against Hammonton.
“It feels great to see everything coming together,” Pressley said. “When I transferred in here I didn’t expect this, but I see everybody getting after it. We just have to keep working and stay focused. We can’t get complacent.”
Added Smith, “Hammonton has always been a great football program, and to be able to carry that name on your jersey means something.”
What’s next: Hammonton hosts Delsea Regional on Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. Timber Creek hosts Williamstown on Oct. 14 at 6 p.m.
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays