Mike Gawlik’s Big Night Helps Jackson Memorial Knock off Toms River South
By John Bush - Shore Sports Network contributor
TOMS RIVER – Sophomore running back Mike Gawlik became Jackson Memorial’s weapon of choice against Toms River South in the Jersey Mike's Game of the Week on Friday night.
Listen to the game broadcast at the end of this report.
Gawlik ran 19 times for 101 yards and three touchdowns and had an interception on defense as the Jaguars, ranked No. 8 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, defeated the Indians, 37-27, in a Class A South game at Detwiler Stadium.
It was the third straight victory for Jackson Memorial (6-1, 5-1) since a 30-24 overtime loss to Brick, and kept the Jaguars on pace to secure the top seed in the NJSIAA Group IV playoffs. Toms River South (3-3, 2-3) lost its second straight game and third in the last four.
On a Jaguars offense that also features running backs Vinny Lee and Matt Castronuova and quarterback Joe DeMaio, it was the 5-foot-8, 155-pound Gawlik who delivered in crunch time. He ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns in the second half, including 65 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter as Jackson Memorial maintained its lead and kept the ball away from the Indians’ dangerous offense.
Jackson Memorial clung to a 30-27 lead early in the fourth quarter when Castronuova made an interception and returned it 40 yards to the Indians' 36-yard line. Gawlik then got the call five straight times and ran all 36 yards, finishing with a 3-yard touchdown run, to give the Jaguars a 37-27 lead with 6:44 left.
Gawlik followed with an interception on a deep pass at the Jackson Memorial 25, and the Jaguars ran out the final 5:30 as Gawlik ran for two first downs and DeMaio converted another first down with an 11-yard run on third-and-9.
“We have those weapons where we can just give the ball to any guy we want with Matt, Vinny and Mike,” DeMaio said. “Mike stepped up to the plate today, and he made some big, hard runs and that’s what carried us at the end of the game.”
“We were just going to ride the hot hand, whoever’s getting the job done,” Jackson Memorial coach Walt Krystopik said. “Tonight it was (Gawlik), other nights it’s been Castronuova, it’s been Vinny Lee, it’s been Joe DeMaio. Whoever’s getting it done that’s who we’re going to go with.”
The big fourth quarter also was significant for Gawlik after he had fumbled late in last week’s game against Brick Memorial. The Jaguars held on for a 21-14 victory.
“The coaches trusted me, especially from Brick Memorial when I fumbled it,” Gawlik said. “They gave me the trust back.”
“That was definitely a focal point this week during practice with the individual drills - ball security,” Krystopik said. “Late in the games it’s paramount to be able to finish games like the way we did tonight.”
The game featured big plays by both teams for the first three quarters, especially from Toms River South as senior running back Khaleel Greene ran nine times for 125 yards and two touchdowns and senior quarterback Tymere Berry added 112 rushing yards and threw for a pair of touchdowns.
“When you have those types of talented athletes all it takes is one mistake and it’s a touchdown,” Krystopik said.
The Jaguars found that out early when the Indians struck on the game’s opening possession as Tyler Sosa snared a Berry pass with a leaping catch in the back of the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Jackson Memorial answered with a 10-play, 51-yard drive after the Indians tried an onside kick. Lee had runs of 18 and 10 yards, and Gawlik scored on a 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to tie it at 7.
Greene put the Indians back in the lead at 14-7 with a 53-yard touchdown run, but the Jaguars made it 14-all when DeMaio hit receiver Kyle Johnson in stride for a 53-yard touchdown.
“I finally hit Kyle Johnson on a deep ball,” DeMaio said. “I’ve been missing it the last couple of weeks.”
Jackson Memorial then followed an Indians punt with a 40-yard drive as Lee made a 25-yard run and DeMaio threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brody Graham, giving the Jaguars their first lead at 21-14 lead with 4:56 left in the first half.
The Jaguars added another score when a snap sailed over Indians punter Matt Shiffer and through the end zone for a safety and a 23-14 lead. The Indians, though, closed to within 23-21 with a 57-yard drive as Berry threw a 30-yard touchdown to Jaden Kosh with 35.5 seconds left.
Jackson Memorial opened the second half with a 9-play, 66-yard drive – all rushes – as DeMaio ran for 52 yards and Gawlik scored on a 7-yard run to make it 30-21.
Toms River South again struck back when Greene finished an 85-yard drive with a 43-yard touchdown run as the Indians, who missed on a two-point conversion, pulled to within 30-27 with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
The Indians appeared to have momentum when Sosa ended the Jaguars’ ensuing possession with an interception. Toms River South drove to the Jaguars 42, but two penalties forced third-and-18 and Castronuova’s interception and 40-yard return put Jackson Memorial back in position to take control of the game behind its offensive line and bruising running game.
“Coach told us, last year at halftime we were winning here at South and they just ended up beating us and blowing us out,” said DeMaio of last year’s 33-14 loss to the Indians in which the Jaguars were outscored 21-0 in the second half. “We didn’t want that to happen again, so we just came out and played hard.”
“The thing with them is they can spread you out and be dangerous, and then they can get up in their ‘I’ and just pound the heck out of you,” Toms River South coach Ron Signorino Jr. said of Jackson Memorial. “They’re a heck of a football team. They beat us. There’s no such thing as a moral victory, but I am so proud of our guys the way we battled.”
Jackson Memorial 37, Toms River South 27
|Jackson Mem.||TR South|
Jackson Mem. (6-1, 5-1) 0 23 7 7 – 37
TR South (3-3, 2-3) 7 14 6 0 – 27
TRS – Sosa 32 pass from Berry (Shiffer kick).
JM – Gawlik 5 run (Calhoun kick).
TRS – Greene 53 run (Shiffer kick).
JM -- K. Johnson 53 pass from DeMaio (Calhoun kick).
JM – Graham 9 pass from DeMaio (Calhoun kick).
JM – Safety, ball snapped through end zone.
TRS – Kosh 30 pass from Berry (Shiffer kick).
JM – Gawlik 7 run (Calhoun kick).
TRS – Greene 43 run (pass failed).
JM – Gawlik 3 run (Calhoun kick).
Rushing – JM: Gawlik 19-101, Lee 13-66, DeMaio 12-65, Castronuova 1-(-3); TRS: Greene 9-125, Berry 21-112, Sosa 2-15, Kosh 2-4, Shiffer 1-(-17).
Passing – JM: DeMaio 4-9-1 115; TRS: Berry 4-7-2 76.
Receiving – TRS: K. Johnson 2-66, Castronuova 1-40, Graham 1-9; TRS: Sosa 1-32, .Kosh 1-30, Greene 1-10, Hearne 1-4.
Interceptions – JM: Castronuova 1-45, Gawlik 1-0; TRS: Sosa 1-10.
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