"Every year, even back in Pop Warner, it's us vs. Delran in the last game," said Hart, Cinnaminson's senior two-way lineman. "On that last drive, all I could think was, 'A couple more big plays and we're going to lose. And I'm going to have to live with that for the rest of my life.' "
Instead, Hart's emphatic finale gave the Pirates (6-4 overall, 4-1 division) a share the WJFL Liberty Division title with Delran (9-1, 4-1). Cinnaminson sealed a winning season for itself and ended Delran's run at perfection. Delran still leads the Thanksgiving series, 11-10.
"This game meant everything to us," Cinnaminson quarterback Nick Thevanayagan said. The sophomore played inspired football, rushing for 179 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and, on defense, picking off a pass on the second half's opening drive.
On the very next play after Delran took its only lead of the game, Thevanayagan broke a run up the middle, escaping for a 62-yard touchdown that gave his team a 17-14 lead with 11 minutes, 49 seconds left in the game.
"We knew we had to win this for the seniors," Thevanayagan said.
Hart and his defensive-line mates harassed Delran quarterback Justin McFadden (11 for 19, 186 yards passing) most the game, even as the shifty McFadden often eluded would-be sacks.
Delran's final drive started on its own 34 with 3:30 left. McFadden completed throws on three of the first four plays.
But on third and 3 from the Cinnaminson 38, Hart busted through the line and whipped McFadden down by his shirt.
On fourth and 16, it was a similar story, this time with a host of Pirates bombarding McFadden and ending Delran's hopes of a comeback.
"I can't say enough about these kids," Cinnaminson coach Mario Patrizi said. "Delran's a great program. We put together a nice game of football in all three phases today."
Cinnaminson had built an early lead mostly by winning the field-position battle and controlling possession. The Pirates ran 36 first-half plays to Delran's 15.
"We didn't make plays like we normally do," said Delran coach Pete Miles, whose team is still alive in the postseason. "It's frustrating because when you get that close to perfection, you want to maintain it. But for us, I'm hoping that this reinvigorates us for next week."
Delran 0 7 0 7 – 14
Cinnaminson 0 10 0 7 – 17
C: Matt Morris 26 pass from Nick Thevanayagan (Michael Jones kick)
D: Zach Bautz 46 pass from Justin McFadden (McFadden kick)
C: FG Jones 25
D: Mark Jukic 1 run (McFadden kick)
C: Thevanayagan 62 run (Jones kick)
Contact Chris Melchiorre at firstname.lastname@example.org.