Top-Ranked Middletown South Rolls to a 42-0 Win over Freehold Township
FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — There were no hiccups or mistakes from Middletown South on Saturday afternoon, just a workmanlike performance from a team that is rolling in all phases of the game.
The Eagles, ranked No. 1 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, took care of host Freehold Township 42-0 in a Shore Conference Class A North game to improve to 4-0. Senior quarterback Matt Mosquera threw three touchdown passes, junior running back James McCarthy ran for 173 yards and a touchdown and the Eagles defense recorded its second shutout of the season. It all added up to another dominating performance from the Shore’s top team.
“This is what we expect to do every week, to come out and dominate with the talent we have,” Mosquera said. “It doesn’t matter the conditions or the time, we’re going to come out and do our jobs.”
“I think this is what you have to do,” said Middletown South head coach Steve Antonucci. “We have lofty expectations so every week the target gets bigger and bigger. We have to come out and execute. That lurking team is out there. We’re going to run into that team at some point where we’re going to be in a toe-to-toe battle and we’ll have to respond.”
That team may have already shown up in the form of South Brunswick. The Eagles rallied to beat the Vikings 41-21 in Week One, scoring 38 straight points after being down 21-3. Since then they have crushed everyone in their paths, averaging 44 points per game with two shutouts.
“It’s definitely good to know our team isn’t getting complacent and we are playing every game like it’s the best team we’ll face all year,” Mosquera said.
The Eagles got on the board late in the first quarter when junior defensive back Maxx Imsho cut in front of a pass by Freehold Township quarterback Jack O’Brien and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
Once the Eagles got on the board the scoring plays came quickly. An interception by senior defensive back Tom Coffey on the ensuing drive set the Eagles up with the ball at the Freehold Township 27-yard line. A 14-yard run by McCarthy moved the ball to the 13, and two plays later Mosquera found junior wide receiver Samson Dube for a 12-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
The Eagles then scored 21 points in the final five minutes of the second quarter to blow the game open. Mosquera connected with Dube again, this time on a 29-yard touchdown pass to cap a 7-play, 57-yard drive. McCarthy continued to produce yards in chunks with his power running, carrying four times for 21 yards on the drive before Mosquera tossed his second touchdown pass.
On the kickoff that followed, Middletown South’s special teams unit got in on the scoring. The Eagles stripped Freehold Township’s kick returner and senior Tom Marron picked up the loose ball and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to put Middletown South up 28-0.
“I said to the kids after the game that if we are going to be a championship-caliber team we have to create turnovers and score on defense and special teams,” Antonucci said. “It puts so much pressure on the opponent and it’s a game-changer.”
The Eagles forced a three-and-out on the next series to get the ball back with 3:19 left in the first half, and needed just six plays to reach the end zone again. McCarthy bulldozed his way to the Freehold Township 34-yard line with an 11-yard run on third-and-8, and two plays later Coffey got behind the defense and hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Mosquera for a 35-0 lead.
The Eagles actually got the ball back again with under a minute left and threatened to score once more, but Freehold Township junior defensive back Anthony Lotti intercepted Mosquera at the goal line to end the threat.
With a running clock to start the second half because of Middletown South being up by 35, the Eagle extended their lead to 42-0 with an 8-play, 70-yard drive to begin the third quarter. McCarthy had a 28-yard run to move the ball inside the Patriots’ 20-yard line before finishing off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run and a 42-0 advantage.
With senior Cole Rogers, who ran for 1,859 yards and 27 touchdowns last season, out with an injury the Eagles’ running game hasn’t missed a step with McCarthy. When Rogers returns it will give Middletown South one of the best backfield duos in New Jersey.
“It’s such a luxury to have a kid like (McCarthy),” Antonucci said. “He’s a different kind of runner, a powerful runner, where Cole is more of a slasher. Cole will be back next week and hopefully we get him back into the flow.”
The Eagles take on Howell next week before a highly-anticipated showdown with Manalapan in Week Six.