Football – Taylor’s Touchdown Gives No. 10 Brick Fourth Straight Win Over Brick Memorial
BRICK TOWNSHIP — After losing a fumble that led to Brick Memorial tying the score and seizing momentum, Brick senior Ja’Sir Taylor was down, almost to the point that he didn’t want the ball anymore. Almost.
“Honestly, at that point I didn’t want to mess up again and jeopardize my team,” Taylor said. “But I felt like I had to make up for it. My number was called and I had to do what I needed to do.”
Just 19 seconds after Brick Memorial knotted the score, Taylor took a handoff on a sweep and raced untouched 65 yards to the end zone early in the fourth quarter. His score stood up as the winning touchdown as visiting Brick, No. 10 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, held off the rival Mustangs for a 28-14 Shore Conference Class A South win on a sweltering Saturday afternoon. It is the fourth consecutive win for the Dragons (1-0, 1-0) in the rivalry series.
“When that (fumble) happened we knew the next time we would give him the ball in a key situation, and he would respond,” said Brick head coach Len Zdanowicz. “He’s that type of kid. He’ll come to the sideline and only be mad at himself and want to make up for it. He righted the wrong.”
Taylor, who is verbally committed to Temple, finished with 141 total yards with 114 yards rushing on eight carries and three receptions for 27 yards. Senior quarterback Anthony Costanza accounted for 153 total yards with 77 yards passing and 76 yards rushing, including a 22-yard touchdown run.
Brick Memorial’s running game consistently moved the ball on Brick’s defense, rumbling for 173 yards on 42 carries. Junior running back Tony Thorpe had a game-high 119 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries, and junior quarterback Grant McKelvey had 46 yards on 10 carries.
Brick’s defense bent, but came up with stops at crucial times, including forcing three turnovers. Senior linebacker Dean Helstowski had a 90-yard fumble return for a touchdown and also intercepted a pass, and senior linebacker Jay Obenauer had a game-clinching pick-six with 1:10 left in regulation.
Brick Memorial’s offense started strong behind Thorpe, who entered the season after rushing for 1,300 yards as a sophomore. He ran for 26 yards on the first play from scrimmage, and later in the drive McKelvey ripped off a 25-yard run to put the ball at the Brick 2-yard line. On the next player, however, some confusion in the backfield caused McKelvey to scramble out of the pocket, and in doing so the ball was knocked loose. Helstowski scooped it up at the 10-yard line and weaved his way down the field, picking up blockers along the way to put the Dragons up 7-0.
“We had a lot of guys swarm to the ball and I just happened to scoop it,” Helstowski said. “It was a serpentine run. I’m not the fastest guy but I had a lot of blockers.”
“Dean came up big there,” Zdanowicz said. “With everyone running down the field looking to block someone I was just hoping we didn’t hit anybody in the back.”
Brick had a 12-play drive at the end of the first quarter that didn’t yield any points, as the Mustangs made a stop on fourth down at their own 25-yard line. Taylor picked up a first down on a punt when he fielded a low snap and decided to take off, gaining 12 yards and moving the chains. Costanza then converted a fourth-and-one with a 10-yard run to put the ball at the Brick Memorial 17-yard line. Taylor then made a great play to leap over a Brick Memorial defender for a wold-be touchdown reception, but was flagged for offensive pass interference.
The Mustangs then took over at their own 25-yard line and began a 13-play, 75-yard drive that tied the game at seven. The running game plodded its way across midfield before McKelvey hit Derek Robertson for 30 yards down to the Brick 15-yard line. On fourth-and-one, Thorpe plowed in for a six-yard touchdown.
The Dragons responded swiftly, re-taking the lead with a four-play, 68-yard scoring drive. Costanza connected with Taylor for 17 yards before a wild play gained 20 yards. Costanza hit sophomore Cole Groschel for a seven-yard gain, but the ball popped free and caromed forward. Brick was able to recover and retain possession at the Brick Memorial 22-yard line. On the next play, Costanza burst up the middle for a 22-yard touchdown run and a 14-7 lead.
Early in the third quarter Brick Memorial tied the game at 14. Taylor had picked up a first down with a 14-yard run, but fumbled at the end of the play. Willie Garner recovered for Brick Memorial, and two plays later junior quarterback Justin Hans fired a 64-yard touchdown pass to KiShaun Carter. Hans, who was injured in the Mustangs’ first preseason game and expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks, was surprisingly cleared for the season-opener. He entered for a handful of snaps when McKelvey went down with a leg injury.
Brick Memorial had plenty of momentum, and almost got the ball back when Tay’von Ford tipped a Costanza pass and it was nearly intercepted by Robertson. The Dragons caught a break, and on the next play Taylor found the end zone for a 21-14 lead. He needed to make just one cut before turning upfield, and once he found open room there was no one on the field fast enough to chase him down.
“That play was effortless,” Taylor said. “Everyone did their blocks and I just walked into the end zone.”
“Ja’Sir is the type of player who any time he touches the ball - offense, defense, special teams - he can score on anybody,” Helstowski said. “The game might be close but you give it to him and somehow, someway he’ll get to the end zone.”
Brick Memorial had one last chance starting at its own 21-yard line with 2:09 left. On third down, Hans’ pass was intercepted and returned 20 yard for a touchdown by Obenauer to clinch the win.
“(Brick Memorial) gave us everything we knew they were going to give us,” Zdanowicz said. “We knew we had to have a lot of kids step up today. We’re happy coming out with the win, but there’s a lot of things to fix.”
The Dragons are 1-0, but still have to face some of the best teams in the Shore Conference over the next month. They face No. 5 Jackson Memorial next week, followed by No. 2 Toms River North and No. 4 St. John Vianney.
“We have momentum going into our next game,” Taylor said. “And we need it.”
No. 10 Brick 28, Brick Memorial 14
Brick (1-0, 1-0) 7 7 0 14 — 28
Brick Memorial (0-1, 0-1) 0 7 0 7 — 14
B - Dean Helstowski 90-yard fumble return (John Bruno kick)
BM - Tony Thorpe 6-yard run (Bryce Troncone kick)
B - Anthony Costanza 22-yard run (John Bruno kick)
BM - Justin Hans 64-yard pass to KiShaun Carter (Bryce Troncone kick)
B - Ja’Sir Taylor 65-yard run (John Bruno kick)
B - Jay Obenauer 20-yard interception return (John Bruno kick)
Rushing - B: Ja’Sir Taylor 8-114, Anthony Costanza 13-76, Rashan McCall 2-6, Cole Groschel 1-0, Team 1-13; BM: Tony Thorpe 29-119, Grant McKelvey 10-46, Blaine Netterman 2-8, Justin Hans 1-0.
Passing - B: Anthony Costanza 9-12-0 77; BM: Grant McKelvey 5-13-1 84, Justin Hans 1-3-1 64, Blaine Netterman 0-1-0 0.
Receiving - B: Cole Groschel 3-32, Ja’Sir Taylor 3-27, John Prato 1-15, Brandon Williams 1-6, Rashon McCall 1-(-3).
Interceptions - B: Jay Obenauer 1-20, Dean Helstowski 1-0.
Football editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.