BRICK TOWNSHIP — The struggles of last year’s 2-8 football team have faded in Brick Memorial’s rearview mirror. This is now a Mustangs squad that is back to playing championship-caliber football.

Senior running back Tony Thorpe ran for a game-high 171 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and Brick Memorial’s defense pitched a shut out in the second half while forcing three turnovers to complete a 21-7 Shore Conference Class A South victory over Central on Friday night at DiFabio Field.

Junior quarterback Tyler Sindel added 85 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, senior defensive back Dylan Vill returned a fumble for a touchdown while adding an interception, senior defensive back Blaine Netterman also had an interception, and junior linebacker Najiere Hutchinson had two sacks and a tackle for loss to propel the No. 9 Mustangs to their fourth straight win.

“We had a 2-8 football team last year, so we’ve seen a constant evolution of this team since December,” said Brick Memorial head coach Walt Currie. “We’re just going to continue to get better and work hard, check out the film and make our adjustments.”

“We’re getting better and we have a one-way mentality: refuse to lose,” Thorpe said.

Junior quarterback Joe Fowler threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to junior wide out Darius Martorano and sophomore running back Kavon Chambers ran for 67 yards on 15 carries to lead Central (3-2, 3-1), which suffered its first defeat within Class a South. Chambers, who entered the game with 660 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, was held out during the first quarter. Sophomore Landon Richardson started in his place and ran for 62 yards on 13 carries.

Brick Memorial (4-1, 3-1) was able to back up last week’s eye-opening win over Sayreville with another grinding performance on the ground, rolling up 290 yards rushing on 41 carries. Thorpe continues to batter opposing defenses between the tackles and ran for over 100 yards for the fourth straight game. Sindel, a first-year starter, has improved each week to get more comfortable directing the Mustangs’ triple-option attack, and had his most productive game to date. He had a 47-yard run that set up Thorpe’s touchdown and later scored on a 29-yard touchdown to put Brick Memorial up by two scores.

“[Central] gave us a couple things that, through his reads, Tyler was able to keep the ball and make things happen,” Currie said. “He had that long run that was big for us, and what he does better than most of the quarterbacks we’ve had is he has a point-guard mentality. He couldn’t care less if he scores a point or runs for a yard. He wants to get the ball to the right guy, and if the right guy happens to be him, than so be it.”

“I’m a lot more comfortable, and is has a lot to do with my teammates having my back,” Sindel said. “I just want to win for everyone else. It’s great scoring touchdowns but it’s also great handing the ball off to Tony and having a guy in the backfield like that to rely on. My confidence is growing and I feel more comfortable.”

Another big change in the right direction has been Brick Memorial’s defense. The Mustangs were near the bottom of the Shore Conference last season allowing 30.1 points per game, but through five games this season have lowered that number to 13.8 points per game with one shut out.

“We’re at our best when we’re playing good defense,” Currie said. “Forget the offense and all that it brings to the table, when we play good defense is when we’ve had our best teams. We’re playing good defense right now and tonight we played good enough. We still have a ways to go.”

It was the Mustangs’ defense that cracked the scoreboard first when Vill scooped up a fumble at the Central 10-yard line and returned it the short distance for a touchdown with 2:57 left in the first quarter.

Central, however, would come right back with a 12-play, 65-yard drive to tie the score at seven. The Golden Eagles, who have struggled in the passing game this season, came out throwing with Fowler connecting with junior Eli Allen for 15 yards to get the ball near midfield. Richardson picked up gains of 8, 12 and 6 yards to move the ball to the Brick Memorial 22-yard line as the first quarter came to an end. Chambers then entered the game on the first play of the second quarter and carried four times for 21 yards to move the ball to the 6-yard line. On third-and-goal, Fowler connected with Martorano on a quick slant for the touchdown, and Shane Black’s extra point knotted the score at seven.

Brick Memorial then put together a 10-play drive that reached Central’s 5-yard line, but a fumble which was recovered by Central senior safety Neil Harrington squashed a drive that looked certain to put points on the board.

Central reached the Brick Memorial 44-yard line on the ensuing series, but a diving interception by Vill on a long pass attempt by Fowler stopped the Golden Eagles.

Brick Memorial’s offense started to wear on Central’s defense on that long drive in the second quarter. Thorpe’s three- and four-yard runs were now seven- and eight-yard runs, and that trend continued on the opening possession of the third quarter.

Starting at its own 25-yard line to begin the second half, Brick Memorial went 75 yards in seven plays to take the lead for good on Thorpe’s 6-yard touchdown run. A 14-yard run by Netterman on a pitch moved the ball across midfield, and Sindel’s 47-yard run on a keeper got the ball down to the 1-yard line. After a false-start penalty, Thorpe rumbled in from six yards out.

“I think our offense built on the momentum we took in the second quarter,” Currie said. “Even though we went down and fumbled, we still started to turn the tide a little bit, physically. Coming out in the third quarter and getting the ball down the field and putting in a score right away really set the tempo for the half.”

Brick Memorial’s defense forced consecutive three-and-outs to get the ball back at its own 39-yard line with 2:01 left in the third quarter. That’s where the Mustangs began a 7-play, 61-yard scoring drive to take a 21-7 lead. Thorpe, Sindel and Netterman combined to move the ball to the 29-yard line where Sindel faked to Thorpe and weaved his way through the Central defense for a 29-yard touchdown with 10:34 left in the game.

From there, Brick Memorial kept Central out of the end zone despite the Golden Eagles making two trips inside the Mustangs’ 30-yard line. Netterman had an interception in the en zone with 4:30 left and Hutchinson blasted Gavin Whelan for a sack on fourth down on the final offensive play of the game.

Winners of four in a row, the Mustangs look like a complete team that can make some noise in the state playoffs. Last season’s two-win campaign is a distant memory.

“We’re building confidence and it’s not luck,” Sindel said. “We’re getting it done with hard work.”

Box Score

No. 9 Brick Memorial 21, Central 7

Central Brick Memorial
First downs 12 14
Rushes-yards 30-114 41-290
Passing 10-24-1 0-1-0
Passing yards 89 0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 5-50 4-45

 

Central (3-2, 3-1)              0 7 0 0 — 7

Brick Memorial (4-1, 3-1) 7 0 7 7 — 21

 

Scoring summary

BM — Dylan Vill 10-yard fumble return (Ryan McCombs kick)

C — Darius Martorano 6-yard pass from Joe Fowler (Shane Black kick)

BM — Tony Thorpe 6-yard run (Ryan McCombs kick)

BM — Tyler Sindel 29-yard run (Ryan McCombs kick)

 

Individual statistics

RUSHING — C: Kavon Chambers 15-67, Landon Richardson 13-62, Joe Fowler 1-(-5), Gavin Whelan 1-(-10). BM: Tony Thorpe 24-171, Tyler Sindel 10-85, Blaine Netterman 6-23, Ja Billingsly 1-11.

PASSING — C: Joe Fowler 5-15-1 60, Gavin Whelan 5-9-0 29; BM: Tyler Sindel 0-1-0 0.

RECEIVING — C: Eli Allen 5-40, Darius Martorano 3-28, Landon Richardson 2-15.

INTERCEPTIONS — BM: Tyler Sindel 1-0, Blaine Netterman 1-0.

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.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.

 

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