By Vin Ebenau - Shore Sports Network Contributor

Photo gallery by Heather Laing Photography

TOMS RIVER -- From the very first play of the game, Toms River North was on the attack en route to a 55-20 Shore Conference Class A South victory over visiting Toms River South in the 44th annual “Civil War” rivalry game on Friday night at Gernard Field.

Junior quarterback Mike Husni threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 61 yards and two touchdowns to lead the offensive explosion and get Toms River North back on track after a lopsided loss to Brick Memorial last week. Junior wide receiver Darrion Carrington caught five passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns, junior wide receiver Bryce Watts caught a touchdown and senior running back Asante Moorer ran for a short touchdown.

The Mariners (2-1, 2-1) defense also got in on the scoring action with a pair of fumble returns for touchdowns. Junior linebacker Pete Laquaglia had a 20-yard fumble return touchdown in the first quarter and senior linebacker Anthony Storino ran a fumble back 24 yards for a score in the third quarter.

Dashaun Alexander ran for a game-high 160 yards on 22 carries for Toms River South (2-1, 1-1). Jaden Kosh ran for an 11-yard touchdown and Tyler Sosa caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from T.J. Scuderi.

On the game’s opening drive, Husni ran for the first touchdown from five yards out with 8:52 left in the first quarter. Toms River South’s first possession was abruptly ceased when the ball was jarred loosed and recovered by Laquaglia at the 22-yard line, and the junior ran the ball in for the score putting the Mariners up 14-0 with 7:31 left in the first quarter.

The Indians answered immediately with 5:33 left in the opening quarter when Sosa scored on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Scuderi, bringing South to within 14-7. The seesaw first quarter scoring continued 18 seconds later when, on the first play from scrimmage, Husni hit Watts for an 80-yard touchdown to put the Mariners up 21-7. Despite numerous fumbles from both teams in the first half, the Mariners were able to capitalize on most occasions. Moorer, who rushed for 54 yards on the night, scored his lone touchdown with 5:57 left in the second quarter to give the Mariners a 28-7 lead, and they never looked back. They scored once more in the first half as Husni carried from 18 yards out to score with 3:41 left in half, setting the score at 34-7 after a muffed extra point.

The second half began eerily similar to the first drive of the first half for the Indians. While once again deep in their own territory, Sosa fumbled the carry and it was picked up by Storino and returned 24 yards for a touchdown, giving the Mariners a 41-7 lead. The Indians wouldn’t go down without a fight and scored twice in the third quarter to close the gap slightly. With 5:15 left in the third Sosa caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Kosh, who took over in the second half at quarterback, making the score 41-14. South then recovered  an onside kick, which led to the Kosh’s 11-yard rushing touchdown at 4:24 left in the third to make it 41-20.

The Mariners took the ball to open the fourth quarter and with 11:08 left in the game Husni hit Carrington for a 44-yard touchdown. Despite the Indians attempting multiple fourth down conversions, they eventually punted back to the Mariners late in the game. After a couple run plays the Mariners continued their hurry-up offense and scored with just six seconds left in the game as Husni hit Carrington for a 14-yard touchdown to make it 55-20.