By LARRY HENRY JR.
PENNSAUKEN — The Pennsauken football team heads into its tough stretch of the West Jersey Football League season during the next month, but following a fourth-straight win to start the 2021 campaign on Friday night, the team is full of confidence with some of South Jersey’s top teams on the schedule.
Clinton Tabb III’s Indians rolled to a 38-7 home victory over visiting Moorestown on Friday, using a 134-yard rushing performance from sophomore tailback Elijah Jennings and a dominant defensive outing to give Pennsauken its first 4-0 record since 2011. The Indians held the Quakers (3-2) to 59 yards of offense and only seven points, making them the third consecutive team failing to reach double-digit points.
“Our guys take a lot of pride in keeping the other team off the scoreboard and on their side of the field,” Tabb said. “It’s a bend-don’t-break defense and they rally for one another, which is great to see in a lot of young players.”
“It’s fun to be a part of,” Jennings said about the defense. “It’s great to see the guys fight for one another and even if we do get in a tough situation, we are normally keeping teams out of the end zone.”
Pennsauken got going early in front of the home fans and never took its foot off the gas in what ended up being a comfortable triumph. The Indians scored on each of their opening five offensive series, with Sean Russo’s 42-yard field goal giving them an early 3-0 advantage in the first quarter.
Khalil Ali’s interception on the ensuing defensive series gave Pennsauken great field position, and Jihad Presbery took advantage by scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run with 4:49 left in the first quarter.
With the defense still holding firm against the Quakers’ ground attack, Pennsauken’s offensive line sprung Jennings for the first of his two scores, a 5-yard run which extended the Indians’ lead to 16-0 early in the second quarter. Moorestown cut the deficit to nine points after tailback Guillermo Airall pounded home on a 4th-and-1, but Pennsauken’s offense answered twice more before halftime.
Quarterback Dante Viccharelli connected with Ali on a 21-yard pitch-and-catch, giving Pennsauken a 23-7 lead before Jennings extended the lead to 24 points after racing for his second score of the evening.
“We felt that touchdown really took the sail out of them,” Jennings said. “We knew we were getting the ball back to start the second half, and to go up with two scores in quick succession really felt good to deliver.”
Moorestown tried its best to get anything going after halftime, but was forced into back-to-back punts, eventually conceding its fifth touchdown of the night with 8:55 remaining. Daniel Sconiers came in for Jennings and snuck in a rush from four yards out to pad the final score at 38-7.
“The guys have continued to work hard and the results are coming,” Tabb said. “Unlike seasons past, the guys are learning from mistakes and not hanging their heads. As a coach, it’s great to see the fight in the players and the willingness to want to get better at their craft.”
The Indians finished the game with 342 yards of offense, five touchdowns and zero turnovers, a great sign with daunting tests coming up against both Burlington Township and Camden. Jennings led the way and never slowed down throughout the game, showing what a special talent he can be, with two more seasons ahead of him.
“I knew he was a good talent, but he definitely proved me wrong with how well he is adjusting to the game,” Tabb said. “He has good speed and his physical running is something that continues to improve. He is definitely someone to keep an eye on going into the next few games and the next few seasons.”
“It’s a fun sport and I am happy to have the opportunity to play it here,” Jennings, who also participates in track and field, said. “I try to watch a lot of the pro players to get better. Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott are two guys I idolize and I enjoy watching how hard they work to get better and how physical they are, not only running the ball, but catching out of the backfield.”
Pennsauken now has a plus-100 point differential through four games, something that will give the Indians players and coaching staff confidence as home games against the Falcons and Panthers arise over the next two weeks. It’s the start of a grueling stretch of games to end the regular season, but it’s an opportunity that Jennings is excited to have a say in.
“We’re ready for those games,” Jennings said. “We know it’s going to be tough, that is how football is. We’ve taken care of our business so far and now it’s about showing up ready to play against some of the big boys in South Jersey.”
Larry Henry Jr. covers Burlington County sports for Glory Days Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @lhenry019