By Art Gordon – Shore Sports Network contributor

GLASSBORO - The Delsea football program has won 11 sectional titles and appeared in 14 state championship games while the Barnegat program has been in existence for only eight years and reached its first state final this year.  On Saturday at Coach Richard Wackar Stadium on the campus at Rowan University, it showed.

Delsea (10-2) used a powerful running game and a suffocating defense to grind out a 31-7 victory over Barnegat (10-2) to win its second straight South Jersey Group III title.  The running back tandem of junior Isaiah Spencer (20 rushes for 165 yards) and senior Rob Hooks (17 rushes for 112 yards) led the Crusaders as they piled up 350 rushing yards.

The swarming defense that has not allowed an opponent to score more than 15 points since a 38-29 loss to Camden in the season opener only allowed the Bengals to cross midfield once the entire game and held them to 113 yards of total offense on the day.

Junior wideout Manny Bowen had a touchdown catch for Barnegat's lone score as the Bengals fell 31-7 to defending champion Delsea in the South Jersey Group III final. (Photo by Cliff Lavelle)

“Delsea is a real good football team,’’ said Barnegat head coach Rob Davis. “They beat us pretty good tonight.  They played like a team that’s been here before and like a championship team should.

“We are proud of what we accomplished this year. We are young and we will be back.  We will build off this.  We will use this to make us better.”

The teams played a scoreless first quarter even though the Crusaders took the opening drive of the game and marched to the Bengals’ 4-yard line only to turn the ball over on a fumble recovered by Xavier Young.

The Crusader would not be denied on their next possession, marching 80 yards in 14 plays on a drive that bridged the first and second quarters to take a 3-0 lead on a 28-yard field goal by junior Bronson Deckert.

From that point on, it was all Delsea.  After a three-and-out by Barnegat, Delsea senior quarterback Rob Rolle raced 40 yards to the end zone for a 10-0 lead.  Three plays after the score, Delsea senior cornerback Ron Russell made the first of his two interceptions on the day and returned it 28 yards to the Barnegat 22-yard line.  Three plays later, Rolle’s quarterback sneak extended the lead to 17-0 at halftime.

It was tough for Barnegat to move the ball against a swarming Delsea defense that held the Bengals to 113 total yards. (Photo by Art Gordon)

Delsea wasted no time pushing the lead to 24-0 on its initial possession of the second half.  They methodically moved 66 yards in 13 plays, with Hooks diving in from three yards out to cap the drive.

They pushed the lead to 31-0 with three minutes to play in the third quarter on a 50-yard run by Spencer. He took an option pitch 10 yards downfield from Rolle and raced into the end zone.

The Bengals refused to give up and marched 55-yards in nine plays to get on the scoreboard.  The score was set up by a sensational one-handed, diving 29-yard catch by junior wide receiver Kyle Morris on a fourth-and-28.  Junior quarterback Cinjun Erskine then found junior wideout Manny Bowen on an 8-yard fade pattern in the corner of the end zone on the next play for Barnegat’s lone score.

“We are disappointed today, but we are proud of our accomplishments,’’ Davis said. “ We have raised the bar for future classes.

“We have a lot of underclassmen on the team and had a very successful junior varsity team. Things are going well. The community and the school are behind us.  We are making them proud. This season is over today. Next season starts tomorrow. We’ll be back.


Box score

Delsea 31, Barnegat 7

Delsea           0          17        14        0          31


Barnegat        0          0         0         7            7

Scoring summary

D-Deckert 28 yard field goal

D- Rolle 40 yard run. Deckert kick

D- Rolle 1 yard run. Deckert kick

D- Hooks 3 yard run. Deckert kick

D- Spencer 50 yard run. Deckert kick

B- Bowen 8 yard pass from Erskine. Ulrich kick


Delsea                       Barnegat

First downs                   16                                  3

Rushes-yards           49-350                          21-44

Passing                       0-2-0               9-16-2-69

Penalties                       6-80                             8-70

Punts                             2-31                            7-32

Fumbles-lost                  2-2                             0-0

Individual statistics

Rushing – D:  Spencer 20-165, Hooks 17-112, Rolle 10-63, Slade 2-10.  B: McGuiness 10-13, Erskine 7-20, Wickwire 2-9, Gerena 1-2, Hoffman 1-0

Passing:  D: Rolle 0-2-0.  B: Erskine 9-16-2 60

Receptions:  B: Bowen 3-35, Morris 2-30, Bass 1-(3),McGuiness 1-(2) Hoffman 1-2, Ulrich 1-7

Interceptions:  D: Russell 2

Fumble Recoveries: B: Young, Andrews