By John Bush - Shore Sports Network contributor

LACEY – All the signs were there for Toms River South to get upset by a Lacey team hungry for its first victory in nearly a year.

Indians senior quarterback Tymere Berry, however, wouldn’t let that happen.

Berry rushed for 194 of his 207 yards in the second half along with two touchdowns, including a 24-yard run for the go-ahead score as Toms River South rallied for a 22-15 victory over Lacey in a Class A South game on Saturday.

Toms River South senior quarterback Tymere Berry ran for a 207 yards and two touchdowns to help the Indians pick up a comeback win over Lacey. (Photo by Heather Laing Photography)

It was the ninth straight loss for Lacey (0-4, 0-4) going back to last season. Lions senior quarterback Conor Davies ran 29 times for 121 yards and threw for 94 yards and a touchdown in the loss.

Toms River South (3-1, 2-1) was coming off last week’s 44-34 loss to Toms River North in the “Civil War,” and the defeat appeared to linger in a sluggish first half for the Indians as Lacey took a 6-0 lead into halftime that stretched to 9-0 in the third quarter.

“We came out slow, we came off the buses slow, and the second half we had to kick it up,” said Toms River South senior running back Khaleel Greene, who rushed for 39 yards and a touchdown. “Our coaches yelled at us a little bit, gave us a little talk, and we picked it up in the second half.”

“The worst half of football we’ve played in a couple years,” Indians senior defensive end Joe Odebode said. “It was terrible, but we’re a finishing team this year, a second-half team this year.”

The Indians finally got their offense going after Lacey junior Pat Davis kicked the third of his three field goals, a 39-yarder, to give the Lions a 9-0 lead in the third quarter. Berry opened Toms River South’s ensuing possession with a 23-yard run, and followed with a 42-yarder to the Lacey 6-yard line. One play later, Greene burst up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown and the Indians pulled to within 9-7 midway through the third quarter.

Berry then delivered an electrifying play on the Indians’ next possession, breaking free with a spin move just past the line of scrimmage for a 58-yard touchdown run as Toms River South took its first lead at 14-9 with 2:19 left in the third.

“When he makes a big play we all get excited,” Greene said of Berry. “We all love it when he gets in the open field.”

Lacey, though, answered with a 12-play, 53-yard touchdown drive to regain the lead. The first 11 plays were all runs as Davies ran five times for 37 yards and sophomore running back Connor Wilson added 13 yards. Davies capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Sean Cahalane to give the Lions a 15-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Toms River South responded with a 7-play, 66-yard drive as Berry ran three times for 45 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown run. Greene added a 2-point conversion run and the Indians took the lead for good at 22-15 with 6:42 left.

“It all starts up front,” Berrysaid. “I have a lot of faith in my offensive linemen and they trust me, so once they get the push I take it from there.”

“It was a matter of coming off the football, getting a hat on a hat, Tymere playing better,” Indians coach Ron Signorino Jr. said of the second-half turnaround. “Tymere was not good the first half. He obviously stepped his game up. The game comes down to blocking and tackling, and that’s really all we did better in the second half.”

After an exchange of punts, Lacey had one last chance to tie starting at its 24 with 1:52 left. Davies ran three times for 27 yards and completed two passes for 17 yards as the Lions moved to the Indians’ 37.

One play after a hook-and-ladder play was negated by a penalty, Davies threw incomplete into the end zone and the game appeared to be over, but the Indians were flagged for roughing the quarterback and Lacey had one more chance from the 23. Davies again threw for the end zone, but the Indians knocked down the pass and Toms River South held on for the win.

The loss denied Lacey coach Lou Vircillo a chance to take sole possession of second place in Shore Conference career victories. Vircillo remained tied for second with the late Vic Kubu at 263.

“I’m extremely proud of the effort that was made by our kids,” Vircillo said. “Our game plan stayed true for the most part. I think that the quarterback they have is a very, very fine athlete. When he stepped it up and found a crease in that second half, I think he stepped it up a whole other level. And we had people there, so it was just a matter of the difference in his athleticism at that particular point. I think we bottled him up pretty good in the first half, but the second half was tough.”

One of the game’s biggest plays came before Lacey’s last possession when Indians sophomore punter Matt Shiffer ran down a high snap and avoided several Lions before launching a 30-yard punt.

“The kid has ice in his veins,” Signorino said. “We call him ‘Matty Ice.’ He is just a winner. He’s everything a dad could ask for and he’s everything a coach could ask for. And it was a heck of a punt.”

 

Box Score

Toms River East South 22, Lacey 15

 

Toms River South Lacey
First downs 8 19
Rushes-yards 31-237 50-189
Passing 2-5-0 14-20-0
Passing yards 18 94
Fumbles-lost 5-0 3-0
Penalties-yards 9-66 8-70

 

TomsRiverSouth (3-1, 2-1) 0 0 14  8 –  22

Lacey (0-4, 0-4) 3 3 3 6 – 15

 

Scoring summary

Lac –Davis 30-yard field goal

Lac –Davis 29-yard field goal

Lac –Davis 39-yard field goal

TRS – Greene 7-yard run (Shiffer kick)

TRS –Berry 58-yard run (Shiffer kick)

Lac – Cahalane 1-yard pass from Davies (pass failed)

TRS –Berry 24-yard run (Greene run)

 

Individual statistics

Rushing – TRS: Berry  15-207, Greene 11-39, Cutillo 3-(-1), Alexander 1-0, Harris 1-(-8); Lac: Davies 29-121, Sayre 13-48,Wilson 7-19, Boos 1-1.

Passing – TRS: Berry 2-5-0 18; Lac: Davies 14-20-0 94.

Receiving – TRS: Harris 1-10, Hearne 1-8; Lac: Cahalane 5-36, Bocchini 3-26,Mahon 2-16, Blackwell 2-13, Sayre 2-3.