By MARK TRIBLE
Glory Days Football Writer
PISCATAWAY — It came down to inches and a replay — because of course it did.
If you bleed maroon-and-green, your thumb of approval is sky high. If you’re on the east side of Camden, you will never agree with it.
After a video review on a 4th-and-goal play with 10 seconds left in the South/Central Group 3 Regional Championship here at SHI Stadium, Cedar Creek’s football sideline and fans erupted in jubilation.
C.J. Resto’s tackle at the 1-yard line preserved the Pirates’ undefeated season with a 35-34 win over Woodrow Wilson. The play got reviewed and the officials announced the call stood.
It will be talked about as long as both programs continue to play football.
“Without a doubt,” Creek coach James Melody said when asked if the clash was one of the best he’d ever been part of. “With everything that went into it, being down, we never stopped fighting.
“We scratched and clawed and got back into it. But that was unbelievable, it really was.”
It capped a marathon game that lasted more than three hours. The event featured a 22-0 Tigers’ lead in the first quarter, a span of 30 seconds that saw three touchdowns in the third quarter and Zac Ricci’s 51-yard touchdown catch and run that put Creek (13-0) ahead with 3:21 to play.
Per Chuck Langerman, JoJo Bermudez set the record for most receiving yards in South Jersey history at 1,662 in a season with his 13-catch, 136-yard night.
Mike Estremera of the Tigers (10-3) had an 80-yard kickoff return, a touchdown catch and an interception in the end zone.
Nas’zir Oglesby ran 32 times for 185 yards for Wilson.
Quarterback J.C. Landicini threw for five Pirate touchdowns.
Shelton Neal sacked Landicini three times.
And after a snap that resulted in a touchdown got waved off due to a timeout, a false start on the next attempt and some timeouts from both sides mixed in, that fateful final play — famous or infamous, depending on your side.
Tigers’ coach Brandon Bather gave his opinion.
“The whole point of the championship game, they told us we had seven camera angles, they said on fourth down you get the chance to replay it and from my eyes the kid had tremendous flexibility, stayed up, made sure he didn’t fall down, leaned over and scored a touchdown,” Bather said. “That’s not where we lost the game, but that was where we thought we won it, man.
“But it came down to a challenge, you don’t want it to come down to that.”
It proved a classic every step of the way, a rematch of Cedar Creek’s 21-8 win on Sept. 25.
“It’s the best game I’ve ever played in my life,” said Resto, who admitted he’d bit on the run first on that final play. “I give all the credit to Woodrow Wilson for coming out here and this is the best game I’ve ever seen.”
Melody explained his reaction.
“The words that were being said probably can’t be repeated by me,” Melody said of waiting for the review. “It’s tough. It’s amazing the game came down to that.
“Like I said, it was two great teams that played tonight … It was really just a heavyweight fight that went down to the inch-line.”
You’ve heard the line once, twice and a thousand times more. It’s a shame someone had to lose.
Call overturned or confirmed, it’s a shame all the action and excellent play will be shrouded in a question of inches.
Mark Trible covers the West Jersey Football League for Glory Days Magazine. Check out his weekly show on facebook.com/acglorydays, The South Jersey Football Frenzy, on Tuesday at 7 p.m. You can also follow him on Twitter @Mtrible.