KEYPORT -- When Keyport took on Mater Dei Prep on Saturday afternoon it marked just the second Shore Conference Class B Central divisional game for the Red Raiders in the fifth week of the season. Plenty of football remains to be played, but for Keyport, it has already shifted into playoff mode.

“We have to win them all from here on out,” said Keyport head coach Mike Ciccotelli. “Especially being up in Group II and still playing a Group I schedule. We can’t afford to lose anymore.”

Keyport sophomore Ky'Sun Pryor ran for 119 yards and scored two total touchdowns in a 36-16 win over Mater Dei Prep. (Photo by Bill Normile).
Keyport sophomore Ky'Sun Pryor ran for 119 yards and scored two total touchdowns in a 36-16 win over Mater Dei Prep. (Photo by Bill Normile).

The Red Raiders played with that sense of urgency on Saturday, erasing an early deficit and pulling away for a 36-16 victory over the Seraphs in a battle of 3-1 teams looking to climb the divisional ladder. Sophomore running back Ky’Sun Pryor led a 229-yard ground attack with 119 yards and two total touchdowns while junior Chase Bright added 70 yards and a touchdown. Senior quarterback Alex Thomson threw for 108 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score.

“The offense turned it on today,” Thomson said. “We had that one bad pick, but we came back and came back strong.”

Thomson was alluding to an interception he threw inside the 20-yard line that Mater Dei junior Tyson White returned 96 yards for a touchdown to give the Seraphs an 8-0 lead in the first quarter. White was electric on defense and special teams. In the second quarter he returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown to give Mater Dei another lead, but that was all the Seraphs could muster against a Keyport defense that allowed just 54 total yards.

“We can’t just spot them an interception for a touchdown and a punt for a touchdown,” Ciccotelli said. “But the defense played great. The first thing I said to my defensive coordinator was that I didn’t think (Mater Dei) had 100 yards.”

White’s interception return for a touchdown and Sam Miles' two-point conversion run gave the Seraphs an 8-0 lead late in the first quarter, but Keyport responded with a 13-play, 57-yard drive to tie the score. Thomson plunged in from the one-yard line on a quarterback sneak before hitting Pryor with the two-point conversion pass.

White would strike again midway through the second quarter with an 82-yard punt return touchdown, and Miles again ran in the two-point conversion for a 16-8 lead. Keyport answered with a 7-play, 54-yard drive to tie the score at 16. Thomson ran for 29 yards on third-and-23 to keep the drive alive, and four plays later hit Jeff Sheard for a 37-yard touchdown with a fade route. Thomson once again found Pryor for the two-point conversion and a tie score.

“Throwing that pick woke me up,” Thomson said. “I had to come back and make some plays to get us the lead.”

Thomson would do that on the very next series. Keyport recovered a Mater Dei fumble on the ensuing kickoff and took over at the Seraphs’ 38-yard line with 2:11 left in the first half. Thomson was able to convert a fourth-and-three with a nine-yard pass to Pryor, and two plays later he hit Pryor again on a 22-yard touchdown. Joe Fronchek’s extra point gave Keyport a 23-16 lead at halftime, and the Red Raiders wouldn’t look back.

On its second drive of the third quarter, Keyport went 67 yards in 13 plays to open a 30-16 lead. Pryor closed out the scoring drive with a nine-yard touchdown run at 1:21. Shortly after, a bad snap on a punt by Mater Dei gave Keyport the ball at the 10-yard line. The Red Raiders punched it in after two plays with Bright scoring from three yards out for a 36-16 lead. Keyport also drove to the 10-yard line with under a minute left in the game, but took a knee on fourth down.

After a season-opening 7-6 loss to Asbury Park, Keyport has won four in a row to thrust itself into the race for the division title and for a playoff berth in Central Jersey Group II. They face South River next week before closing with divisional games against Keansburg, Point Beach and Shore.

Box Score

Keyport 36, Mater Dei Prep 16

Mater Dei PrepKeyport
First downs319
Passing yards7108

Mater Dei Prep (3-2, 1-2) 8 8 0 0 – 16
Keyport (4-1, 1-1) 0 23 7 6 – 36

Scoring summary
M – Tyson White 96-yard interception return (Sam Miles run)
K – Alex Thomson 1-yard run (Alex Thomson pass to Ky'Sun Pryor)
M – Tyson White 82-yard punt return (Sam Miles run)
K – Alex Thomson 37-yard pass to Jeff Sheard (Alex Thomson pass to Ky'Sun Pryor)
K – Alex Thomson 22-yard pass to Ky'Sun Pryor (Joe Fronchek kick)
K – Ky'Sun Pryor 9-yard run (Joe Fronchek kick)
K – Chase Bright 3-yard run (kick failed)

Individual statistics
Rushing – M: Christian Palmer 8-21, Derek Lopez 5-12, Sam Miles 2-8, Tyson White 4-6, Jelanie Mitchell 1-0; K: Ky'Sun Pryor 22-119, Chase Bright 14-70, Alex Thomson 12-39, Desmond Underwood 4-1, Mike O'Dwyer 2-0.
Passing – M: Christian Palmer 2-4-0 7; K: Alex Thomson 6-11-1 108.
Receiving – M: Eddie Lewis 1-6, Tyson White 1-1; K: Jeff Sheard 2-51, Ky'Sun Pryor 3-43, Travis Alvarez 1-14.
Interceptions – M: Tyson White 1-96.