Florence’s powerful ground game carries Flashes past Burlington City

Florence's Davien Vernon rushes for a 60-yard touchdown in a 28-18 win over Burlington City on Oct. 19. Photo by Thomas Wiedmann
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Florence's Davien Vernon rushes for a 60-yard touchdown in a 28-18 win over Burlington City on Oct. 19. Photo by Thomas Wiedmann

Florence Township Memorial High School’s reputable ground game turned up its engines when Burlington City High School paid a visit for a football showdown on Oct. 19.

Florence churned out 409 yards on the ground and rolled to a 28-18 victory over Burlington City.

The victory enabled the Flashes to improve to 4-0 in the West Jersey Football League’s Freedom Division.

Florence, which is  4-3 overall, can clinch the Freedom Division championship and secure a berth in the South, Group 1 state playoffs if the Flashes can defeat New Egypt this Friday, Oct. 26. The game will be held in New Egypt and will kick off at 7 p.m.

The state playoffs will begin the following weekend throughout New Jersey.

Florence found itself trailing Burlington City, 12-7, in the second period that evening.

But then the running game turned on the switches.

Florence’s Jajuan Hays and Joe LeVach each provided some solid runs when Florence took the lead for good at 14-12 in the second period as LeVach capped the crucial drive when he burst into the end zone from a yard out.

With a little more than a minute to go in the first half, Hays and LeVach again sparked a scoring series that was concluded when LeVach dashed 45 yards to a touchdown.

“My offensive line made huge holes for me [to get down the field] and score two touchdowns,” said LeVach, who finished with 141 yards rushing on 11 carries.

After LeVach’s second TD, the Florence defense shut down Burlington City and got the ball back with under a minute to play in the half.

Quarterback Shane Fajgier engineered a quick thrust that brought the ball to the Burlington City 15 with six seconds to play in the half.

Then Florence opted for the touchdown over a field goal and Fajgier connected with receiver Osmar Quinones for the 15-yard touchdown to close the half. Daniel Jantos’ fourth conversion kick sent Florence into the locker room with a 28-12 lead.

Burlington City, which fell to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in the Freedom Division, managed a touchdown run from three yards out by John Thomas in the third period, but that was it for all of the scoring in the second half.

Florence had gained the early 7-0 lead in the first period when Davien Vernon broke free for a 60-yard run to the end zone and Jantos kicked the conversion.

“Starting off in the first quarter, we were battling back and forth, but [Vernon’s] big run really helped gain momentum and broke it open for us,” LeVach said.

Vernon, who ended the game with 117 yards on the ground on 12 rushes, shared the credit of his efforts.

“The game was a little rocky at first, but then I busted out for that touchdown – we gained momentum, and then I just kept doing my thing,” said Vernon. “I give credit to my coaches and their play calls. If it wasn’t for their calls, I wouldn’t have gotten my carries.”

Hays, who has been the ringleader of the Florence running attack this season, ended the game against Burlington City with 151 rushing yards on 21 carries.

Florence is now focused on New Egypt and then the state playoffs.

“We got another big rivalry game – a big division game [next week],” said Florence coach Joe Frappolli about the Oct. 26 matchup with New Egypt. “It’s our last game of the regular season, and then hopefully we’ll be in the playoffs and get ready for it.”