By Brian Deakyne
MIDDLETOWN — After a gut-wrenching loss to Manalapan, the Eagles had two options.
Get up or stay down.
Middletown South (3-1) definitively displayed its decision last Friday in a 42-13 whopping of Manasquan. A week following a crushing 35-31 home loss to the Braves, the Eagles put on a show in every facet of the game to beat the Warriors.
The game, which featured the two most successful teams in the history of the Shore Conference in terms of sectional championships, was one-sided for three quarters, with the Warriors scoring two quick touchdowns in the third quarter to attempt a comeback.
“We played our hinies off last week and came up short. You watch Manasquan on film and they’re a tough group. They’re physical they get after it and we were fortunate to come out here and do what we did today,” Middletown South head coach Steve Antonucci said.
Middletown South’s dashing running attack, which has been the strength of the team all season, was on key last week. Senior running back Jake Ripnick continued his 2012 success, carrying the ball 32 times — 20 in the first half — for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Ripnick helped the Eagles offense get on pace early, and they never looked back.
South’s dominant run attack also helped open its passing game in the second half. Junior quarterback Kyle Brey completed 14 of 18 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns, posting arguably, his most efficient game as a varsity quarterback.
“We were really disappointed that we couldn’t pull out that win [against Manalapan],” Brey said. “We were happy that we came out strong [against Manasquan] and beat them.”
Ripnick had first half touchdown runs of five and three yards and Brey connected on a six-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Ryan Patterson in the first quarter and a 79-yard touchdown strike to senior wide receiver Anthony Citarella in the third quarter to help Middletown South in the blowout win.
Brey also scampered for a 19-yard score in the fourth quarter to finalize the much-needed victory.
“I feel like they brought a little more pressure in the second half, and we took advantage of it,” Brey said.
Junior running back Jeremy Concepcion added an 18-yard touchdown run in the second quarter for the Eagles, who at one point in that quarter, led 28-0.
“You want to get back up off the deck, that’s the most important thing,” Antonucci said. “To get back in the win column is huge, so now hopefully we get started rolling again.”
Manasquan and Middletown South have the two most state titles in the conference with 11 and 9, respectively. They both stand on pride and it was displayed last week.
“They’re not going to change, that’s the tradition of their program, we’re tradition, too here and we’ve always played good defense,” Antonucci said. “We thought we’d be able to beat them.”
The win sets up Middletown South to play its fourth consecutive home game next week, when they host Freehold Township (0-4). A win against the Patriots would help solidify the Eagles as the solid third place team in A-North behind Manalapan and Colts Neck, which remain unbeaten in divisional play.