by Anthony Mauro Jr.
MIDDLETOWN – After a deadlocked first quarter, the Middletown South Eagles (4-2) drove the ball up and down the field on the Marlboro Mustangs (0-6) en route to a 45-8 victory last Friday night.
The two teams traded blows like heavyweight boxers through much of the first quarter. Both teams would end their opening drives with failed fourth down conversions. Upon each teams’ next possession they would both elect to punt the ball away.
After receiving the Eagles’ punt, the Mustangs started their next drive on their own 35-yard line with slightly under 4:00 to go in the first quarter. A penalty for illegal procedure would eventually push them back to 3rd and 13. Mustangs’ quarterback Parker Hoch then completed a 20-yard pass to Steven Semo to convert for a first down. Following two rushes for nine yards by Carl Morehead, Hoch completed a 15-yard pass to Jason Kaplin to end the first quarter.
The Mustangs’ drive to open the second quarter was abruptly stopped when the Eagles’ Anthony Citarella came up with an interception at the 1-yard line. The next play, Jake Ripnick tied a school record by rushing for a 99-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead. These two plays appeared to be pivotal in getting the Eagles on a roll.
“We always preach to our kids they have to know down and distance. A fourth down interception at the 2-yard line is not something that we want the kids to do, but it obviously worked out in our advantage by going 99-yards the next play. It [the interception] was a good play by Anthony. It ended that drive. Knock down or interception, it was something that we needed just to give us some spark and after that the floodgates just opened up. The kids did a nice job tonight,” said Middletown South coach Steven Antonucci.
The Eagles proceeded to recover the ball on the ensuing kickoff due to a miscommunication by the Mustangs.
Eagles’ quarterback Howie Brey was sacked for a 10-yard loss on their first play of the drive, but then completed a 45-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Concepcion. After a three and out for the Mustangs, Brey threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Tayler Hendrickson.
The Mustangs fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Eagles recovered, which led to a 24-yard field goal by Connor Ryan.
Brey would throw another touchdown pass just before halftime, this time to Matt Lamattina, making the score 31-0.
“The kids do a great job. We give them film to watch, they get on the Internet and they watch what they have to watch, they learn the tendencies [of the opponent], and once they figure that all out it’s pretty simple at that point. They learn the scheme, they had a nice week in practice, and they have a goal every week of what they want to give up for points and if they hold that we’re going to win a lot of football games,” said Antonucci.
The Eagles received the second half kickoff and started their drive at their own 40-yard line. On second down, Tim McArdle broke off for a long rushing touchdown.
On the Mustangs’ next possession they would give the ball back to the Eagles on a fumble this time.
Brey rushed in for a 9-yard touchdown on 1st and goal, giving the Eagles a 45-0 lead.
The Mustangs would finally put some points on the board with 7:18 left in the fourth quarter after a 45-yard drive that ended in a 5-yard rushing touchdown for Brian Prestigiacomo. Hotch completed to Jason Kaplin for a 2-point conversion. The Eagles would hold onto the ball, methodically picking up first downs, to run out the clock; making the final score 45-8.
“This is what’s always known as a trap game. Coming off a big win, you’re playing an opponent that might not be too good and they kind of sneak up on you. It showed in the first quarter. We came out, we weren’t clicking, but once the cobwebs cleared we realized that we were in a little bit of a game and obviously we turned things on in the second quarter and we were able to flip that switch. It’s always a big game and after starting 0-2 our goal is to just keep rolling like we’ve been doing and get ourselves back into a position to qualify for the playoffs and hopefully get a home game out of it, but obviously we want to get back to where we always try to be in December. That’s our goal every year and that’s no different for these guys,” said Antonucci.