With his team backed up in its own territory and trailing by a touchdown, Collingswood High School running back Deron Maxwell rushed for what looked to be a 5-yard gain before he was surrounded by a trio of tacklers.
Somehow, Maxwell broke away down the sideline for an 83-yard touchdown run.
“I hit the hole and [the defender] tried to tackle me,” Maxwell explained. “I just [out]muscled him and went straight to the end zone.”
And that was only the beginning.
Maxwell rushed for a career-high 236 yards on 24 caries and Forrley Gunby rushed for 117 on 22 touches to lead Collingswood to a 14-12 victory over Lindenwold in Colonial Conference action, Friday.
The win improved the Panthers to 2-3 and gives the team a much-needed mental boost after the bye week.
“We needed it a lot for our confidence and for the team to stay together,” said Maxwell. “It was a great win.”
Maxwell and Gunby did the bulk of the work, alternating in and out of the lineup to stay fresh.
“Every time I am tired, he comes up and steps up big,” Gunby said. “Every time he’s tired, I come in and step up big. That’s the kind of relationship we need to have on this team. We need to be able to depend on each other and that’s what we do.”
The duo’s performance almost wasn’t enough after a late turnover nearly tied the game. Collingswood led 14-6 and was inside the Lions’ 10-yard line looking to put the game away, with just over five minutes left. Facing a third-and-goal from the seven, quarterback Jordan Wallace dropped back for a pass and was hit as he was releasing the ball. The ball was intercepted by linebacker Tyris Gunter and returned 85 yards for a touchdown.
The play could have demoralized Collingswood; instead, the defense rallied and tackled Lindenwold running back Tymeer Roberts just short of the goal line on the two-point conversion attempt to preserve a 14-12 lead.
“Sometimes something bad happens but you always have to keep playing,” Maxwell said. “It’s a gut-check.”
Maxwell returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to the Collingswood 46 and later picked up an 11-yard run on third-and-1 to burn some time off the clock. Lindenwold did get the football back once more, but were unable to get anything going. Panthers’ lineman Gage Yohanon recorded a sack on fourth-and-9 to close out the victory.
“Everybody stepped up and did their job,” Gunby said.
The Panthers took the lead for good early in the second quarter when Gunby had his best series of the game. He produced runs of 8, 10 and 8 yards before rushing for four yards on a third-and-3 and finishing what he started with a 5-yard touchdown run. The Panthers increased the lead to 14-6 when Wallace found Patrick Miles open for a two-point conversion.
Form there, a stifling defense and the groundwork of Maxwell and Gunby took care of the rest.
“We were very motivated,” Gunby said. “The linemen stepped up big time.”
Collingswood will be back in action next Saturday, traveling to Audubon in pursuit of a .500 record.