Red Bank Beats Long Branch 35-12 to Clinch First Division Title Since 1977
By Ella Brockway - Red Bank Regional Student Correspondent
LITTLE SILVER -- With six minutes and thirty-six seconds left in the third quarter in the final home game of the season, the Buc Deck got loud.
“You can’t stop the run,” they yelled. “You can’t stop the run.”
It wasn’t clear whether Red Bank’s fans meant the Bucs’ rushing performance against division rival Long Branch in the morning’s Thanksgiving Day game, or Red Bank’s shocking undefeated run this season.
Eventually, the meaning became clear:
“You can’t stop the Bucs.”
Red Bank (11-0, 6-0) pulled out a 35-12 win over Long Branch (3-7, 1-5) in the 93rd meeting between the two teams to keep their undefeated streak alive, and become the outright division champions in Class B North. Senior running back Alim Godsey, senior wide receiver/running back Sadiq Palmer and senior quarterback Jack Navitsky combined for 150 rushing yards and the team’s five touchdowns.
The win gave Red Bank its first division title since 1977, and added another clip to the Bucs’ highlight reel of this magical 2015 season.
“To be able to win the B North after 38 years is something that we as a team are so proud of,” said Navitsky, who also threw for 125 yards and two touchdowns in the win. “It shows that all of our hard work has paid off.”
After a quiet first quarter plagued by turnovers from both the Bucs and the Green Wave, Long Branch’s Brandon Lane put the first points on the board with a three-yard run for a touchdown.
Red Bank then put its own run game on display, and after 11 rushing plays on the first drive of the second quarter, Godsey converted on a two-yard touchdown run with 3:00 left in the half.
“Our backs (Godsey, Palmer, and wide receiver/running back Teddy Mitchell) give us a lot of stability, and at the same time, they keep the defense guessing,” said Red Bank head coach Nick Giglio.
The win was just the second time the Bucs have won over Long Branch in the past seven years with Giglio at the helm of the program.
Godsey continued his strong performance with his second touchdown on a 22-yard run to put the Bucs up 14-6 at the beginning of the third quarter. The rushing game of this Red Bank team has been one of the biggest reasons for their success this season, and it was obvious in this game where 43 out of the Bucs’ 54 snaps were running plays.
“The run plays a big role in our success,” said Palmer. “It helps open up the pass game, and since it’s working we have (a lot of) rushing touchdowns this season.”
Just 1:06 after Godsey’s touchdown, Palmer scored with an Odell Beckham-esque, one-handed grab on a 19-yard pass from Navitsky to stretch the Bucs’ advantage to 21-6. Palmer, a Syracuse recruit, scored again with 34 seconds to go on a five-yard run to close out a strong third quarter for the Bucs.
“We knew what we had to do today, and we came out and did it,” said Godsey. “We have a lot of chemistry together, and we’re brothers. We grew up together, so we know what to do.”
A 20-yard pass from Navitsky to wide receiver Mike DeCristofaro pushed the Bucs’ total to 35, and an eight-yard pass from Green Wave quarterback Juwan Wilkins to Timothy Fosque would be the final score, ending the game at 35-12.
Red Bank’s win was also the program’s first against Long Branch since 2010, thereby bringing the Ty Lewis Trophy, named for a Red Bank graduate and the first African-American head coach in Shore Conference history, back to Little Silver for the first time in five years.
“It’s tremendous for the community to receive this trophy again, and we give our hats off to Long Branch for doing their part in the rivalry [for the past five years],” said Giglio. “To have a rivalry, both teams need to do their part. We’ve definitely had competitive football games, but at the same time it means a lot to our players.”
The Bucs now look ahead to Saturday, Dec. 5, when they will take on their Ridge Road rivals, the No. 6 Rumson-Fair Haven Bulldogs for the Central Jersey Group III championship at Rutgers.
“It feels unreal to bring home the division title. It was one of our two goals at the start of the season: win the B-North and a state championship,” Navitsky said. “We still have one more to go now, and we know what we have to do to complete our second goal.”
LB - Brandon Lane 3-yard run (kick failed)
RB - Alim Godsey 2-yard run (Jack O’Connor kick)
RB - Alim Godsey 22-yard run (Jack O’Connor kick)
RB - Jack Navitsky 19-yard pass to Sadiq Palmer (Jack O’Connor kick)
RB - Sadiq Palmer 5-yard run (Jack O’Connor kick)
RB - Jack Navitsky 20-yard pass to Mike DeCristofaro (Jack O’Connor kick)
LB - Juwan Wilkins 8-yard pass to Timothy Fosque (Failed two-point conversion)