By GIUSEPPE UNGARO
ATLANTIC CITY — Nazim Derry’s last-second heave into the end zone was almost caught by two different Atlantic City High School players before it harmlessly fell to the turf, ending the game and the Vikings’ final comeback bid on Friday night.
However, the potential win slipped out of the Vikings’ grasp long before the final play of the team’s 16-14 loss to Washington Township.
The loss also drops Atlantic City to 0-2 while the Minutemen picked up their first win in two tries.
“We had too many mistakes,” Atlantic City coach Thomas Kelly said. “I try to preach to the guys that it’s the little things that you don’t tighten up on that will cost you in the end. When you have two evenly-matched teams, it’s the little things that can cost you. It surely cost us tonight.”
The Vikings had several missed opportunities that could have led to a win instead of a second consecutive loss. Atlantic City led in the final minute before Washington capped off a 10-play, 57-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown catch by Tahir Roundtree on a perfect pass by Mike Piperno with 48 seconds remaining.
It was the second time the Washington Township duo connected on the night. The first came on the opening play of the second half, as Roundtree, who ended the night with eight catches and 143 yards, hauled in a pass for a 67-yard score.
Atlantic City seemed destined to dominate the game early, as it opened the game with a touchdown in the first minute of action. Aaron Jackson scored on a 22-yard touchdown run on a drive that also included a 40-yard run by Derry.
After the defense bent but didn’t break, the Vikings went on a 17-play drive that stalled inside the 10-yard line. Not capitalizing on the possession changed the momentum of the game, even as the Vikings held a 7-0 halftime lead.
Another missed opportunity came two possessions after Roundtree’s first score, as Nashiem Groce forced Piperno to fumble, which was recovered by Scott Cooper Jones at the Minutemen 21-yard-line. Four plays later, the Vikings dropped a pass in the end zone that would have put them up a touchdown.
Instead, the Minutemen took the lead a few possessions later on a 39-yard field goal by James Altieri. Even with the missed plays, Atlantic City held the advantage with 3:32 left in the game.
Derry completed back-to-back passes of 15 and 13 yards, finding Ahmad Jones and Connor Jones. He later connected with Connor Jones for 22 yards on a third-down play to keep the drive alive. Derry eventually found Nah’Sir “Flash” Morgan in the end zone on an 8-yard slant to give Atlantic City the 14-10 lead.
However, there was plenty for time for Washington Township to answer.
“They gave us a bunch of different looks,” said Derry, who finished with 166 yards passing and 94 yards rushing in his first start at quarterback. “At the end of the game they changed it up. They gave us a lot of different looks.”
Contact Giuseppe Ungaro: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDgisepu
By GIUSEPPE UNGARO