MILLVILLE — St. Augustine Prep had been hearing all week about how good Millville is. About how explosive that Thunderbolts offense is with the likes of Syracuse commit LeQuint Allen and sensational freshman receiver Lotzeir Brooks. The Hermits wanted to make a statement Friday night that they have a pretty good squad, too.

South Jersey heard that statement — loud and clear.

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The Hermits were in control from start to finish in the biggest regular-season game so far in the West Jersey Football League this fall, and their stars shone brightly on the big stage in a convincing 31-17 victory over the Thunderbolts, the No. 2 team behind Holy Spirit in The South Jersey Football Frenzy Show Best 11 Rankings.

St. Augustine Prep drove the length of the field to start the game and that drive ended with a missed field goal, but it was clear from the start that the Hermits’ offense was out to prove it could be just as good as Millville’s. After forcing a punt on Millville’s first possession, quarterback Trey McLeer and running back Kanye Udoh went to work. On a 3rd-and-6 at the Millville 20, McLeer found senior Nasir Hill on a swing pass and Hill broke a tackle on his way to the end zone and a 7-0 lead.

That lead swelled to 21-7 by halftime on another touchdown pass from McLeer — this time to Kenny Selby — and the first of two scores from Udoh. The senior tailback was pretty much unstoppable, rushing 29 times for 157 yards, and the Hermits’ defense did the rest. A 3-yard touchdown run from Allen in the second quarter was about all the offense Millville could muster aside from a fourth-quarter field goal and a touchdown pass from Nate Robbins to Brooks in the final two minutes.

“We knew they were a great team coming in and they have a lot of athletes — LeQuint is very good and they have that freshman who’s really good, but I have faith in our defense,” said Brady Small, a two-way senior lineman for the Hermits. “All week in practice we were thinking that we’re a great defense, and we’ll see how good of an offense they are. We showed them tonight by allowing just 14 points. I love my guys, it was a great team win on both offense and defense.”

“Momentum is a big thing when it comes to football — I live by that. When you have the momentum and you have all that steam rolling, there is no better feeling, honestly,” said senior defensive end/tight end Denis Jaquez. “We came out in the second half like it was 0-0 and we had no points on the board, because we knew this was going to be a tough game. We knew we still had to go out there and dominate, and that’s what we did.”

SWARMING DEFENSE: St. Augustine knew it had to rally to the football to stop Allen, a back who had racked up 300 yards and five touchdowns in his previous game, against Shawnee. The Hermits dominated up front, and that made running lanes scarce for Allen, who finished with 68 yards on 19 carries.

“We can match up with anybody. We have the toughest guys on defense; we’re not the fastest, but you better believe we’re going to bring it every game and we’re going to come after you, whoever you are. Some people think we’re just big guys who can’t really move that well, but we do have some speed. We have a few track stars on this team,” said Jaquez, a Northwestern commit. “What we wanted to do was get all 11 caps to the ball. If everyone was at the ball, where was he going to go? If everybody could beat their man we could get to LeQuint, and their other guys as well. I think we did a great job of that.”

“I believe we have the best defensive line in the state — and if not, we’re one of the best,” Small added. “Our guys are great up front. We knew we could dominate up front and that’s what we did. It’s hard to pass and run the ball when you’re going backwards. That’s a great job by the trench dogs.”

Robbins finished 13-of-24 for 201 yards, but much of that came after the Thunderbolts were already trailing 24-7 after a Brandon Bispo 27-yard field goal in the third quarter.

1-2 PUNCH: Udoh pounded the Millville defense nearly 30 times and that paid big dividends as evidenced by his nearly 160 yards and two touchdowns, but McLeer really shined in his opportunity to grab some of the spotlight. He proved he can be much more than just a game managing quarterback.

McLeer completed 9-of-14 passes for 115 yards and a pair of scores, ran the ball seven times for another 45 yards and made smart decisions with the football — throwing the ball away when he needed to and tucking and running to avoid a sack in certain situations. All that from a guy who also plays every snap on defense as a defensive back.

“Trey is a dog,” Jaquez said. “That kid is ath-let-tic! He can do anything; he can pass, he can catch, he can run — whatever you want him to do, he can do it; he can tackle, you name it. He’s a big player on our team.”

And Udoh showed why he is one of the best running backs in New Jersey. Millville has one of the fastest and toughest defensive units around, and the Bolts simply had no way to stop Udoh and the Hermits’ big, athletic offensive line.

“People think he’s a guy who just runs high, but he has some cuts, as you saw tonight. He can turn that corner. That boy can run — he’s another dog,” Jaquez said. “He just runs and does his thing, and he’s not scared to run somebody over. (With him running like that) it’s like relaxation mode, like I’m sitting in a chair on cruise control knowing he’s going to take over and do his thing. All I have to do is not get in his way.”

Added Small, “Kanye is a grown man. He’s a man among boys. Kanye coming here was a huge help for us, and he’s a great kid outside of football. He doesn’t talk much on the field, but he’ll make you feel it when he runs you over.”

ON A ROLL: Prep, the No. 3 team in Glory Days’ Best 11 Rankings, had a tough start to the season with a loss to Archbishop Spalding of Maryland, but the Hermits now have won four straight and are staking their claim to that No. 1-in-South Jersey spot.

“Archbishop Spalding was a very good football team and we knew that, but we’re a good football team will. We’re playing better teams to help us when we play teams like this. Coming into Millville tonight we had two great wins, against Notre Dame and Williamstown, and we felt very prepared for this game,” Small said. “I’ve had Williamstown, Millville and Holy Spirit up on my wall because those were our three losses last year. We beat Williamstown, we beat Millville — so, Holy Spirit, that’s another great team with a great offense. Our schedule doesn’t get any easier. We’re a great team but we know we still have to play a lot of great teams.”

WHAT’S NEXT: St. Augustine Prep hosts Lenape on Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. Millville hosts Hammonton on Oct. 8 at 6 p.m.

Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sullyglorydays@gmail.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays

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