WRITTEN AND REPORTED BY ERIC SCHWARTZ
On a night where Timber Creek High School senior quarterback Dan Williams established the single season state passing record, the celebration was reserved not for Williams, but for the Chargers opponents – Shawnee.
The Shawnee Renegades stunned Timber Creek, 31-22, in the South Jersey Group 4 finals, preventing the Chargers from bringing home their third-straight title.
Williams threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns, bringing his season total to 3,540. The previous record was 3,504, established by Somerville’s Ryan Carty in 2001. Despite, the accomplishment, Williams and his teammates were left feeling the sting of coming up short on a December night where temperatures dipped below 30 degrees.
"It’s really emotional," said Williams, who was consoled by family, friends and fans after the game. "We wanted to come out here and get this win and tonight our best wasn’t good enough. We made a lot of mistakes out there and there a lot of things I, personally, wish I could have back. It’s hard coming this far, working from June to December, and not getting the job done."
Shawnee (9-3) never trailed, opening the scoring with an 88-yard drive that was capped with a 43-yard touchdown run by running back Jake Parola. The Renegades led 17-7 late in the second quarter when Williams led the Chargers on a 73-yard drive that took just one minute, 18 seconds. Williams found Alan Butler open in the end zone with 19 seconds left in the half and added a two-point conversion pass to Adonis Jennings to bring Timber Creek within 17-14 at the break. Jennings finished with over 100 yards receiving.
The Chargers (10-2) looked as if they were poised to take the lead early in the third quarter but the drive came to a sudden end when Williams was intercepted in the end zone. Shawnee wasted no time making the change of possession count as Mike Welsh hooked up with a wide-open Brandon Bye for an 84-yard touchdown to put the Renegades ahead, 24-14.
Timber Creek responded with a touchdown drive of its own. Williams found Cameron Chambers in the corner of the end zone on the second play of the fourth quarter to bring the Chargers within 24-22 after the two-point conversion.
Chambers, who transferred into Timber Creek prior to the season, had a pair of touchdowns and was a weapon all season alongside Jennings.
"I love playing with my quarterback Danny and my partner-in-crime Jennings," Chambers said. "We had fun all year. I was happy to be here and wouldn’t want to be a part of any other team. I love this team, I just wish that we could have got it done. We did the best we could."
The Timber Creek defense came up with a stop and got the ball back to Williams and the offense with seven minutes left. A drive stalled when Williams scampered for 10 yards on a 4th-and-12 and Shawnee took over with 3:33 remaining. The Renegades were able to add a late score to secure the championship.
Timber Creek, meanwhile, was left to reflect on what has been a special run. While the disappointment of Saturday’s result will linger for the players and coaches for a period of time, the record books will show just how special a season it was for Williams and the Chargers.
"It’s a great accomplishment as a team and a program, making it to three championships in a row and winning two championships in a row, Williams said, "but it’s going to be hard to look back on this and say I was happy with the outcome."