Na’eem Sharp scores with 39 seconds left and Millville grabs its seat in the Group 4 state final
Millville's Tahjeer Brown (4) and Kyon Conyers (16) run on the field together in the NJSIAA Group 4 state semifinals at Cherokee High School in Evesham, New Jersey on Sunday, November 20, 2022. Ryan Fuhs/D2 Sports Network
EVESHAM (N.J) - The Millville High School football team seemed dead to rights after Mainland scored its second touchdown of the game.
Until Na'eem Sharp scored his second game-clinching touchdown in as many weeks to power the Thunderbolts to the Group 4 state final.
Millville squeezed past the Mustangs, 18-14, in the NJSIAA Group 4 state semifinals at Cherokee High School on Sunday.
"I knew I was going to score because of what I saw in their defense," Sharp said. "I read how the linebacker was going to read the play, so I just reacted and found the end zone."
The Mustangs opened the scoring through the air on a 30-yard pass from freshman John Franchini to Jamie Tyson with 6:27 left in the first quarter.
Millville's Bricere Hunter capitalized on a scoop-and-score to cut the deficit to 7-6. The count remained intact at halftime.
Mainland extended its lead to 14-6 after Stephen Ordille powered his way into the end zone with eight minutes left in the third quarter.
From there, the Thunderbolts' offense and defense both weathered the storm (and the cold) to bolt to their seventh consecutive victory. Hunter added a rushing touchdown to narrow the deficit to 14-12 and Sharp's late score sealed the victory.
The moment didn't seem too big for the Thunderbolts as they inched closer to triumph on their final drive.
"It's not how we would like it, but we've been here before," Millville coach Humberto Ayala said. "Our group of guys are special and I'm fortunate to coach these players. Even though we have the personnel, we still have to play these games."
Millville will look to become the first Group 4 state champion in NJSIAA history while on its business trip to Rutgers University. The Thunderbolts will face Northern Highlands.
"It feels great," Sharp said. "No one else in Millville has done it, so we're really excited we get this chance."