Football – Goal Line Stand Helps No. 1 Middletown South Survive Upset Bid From Manasquan
MANASQUAN — Middletown South, ranked No. 1 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, escaped Vic Kubu Warrior Field with a 21-14 Shore Conference Class B North victory over Manasquan on Saturday afternoon thanks to a goal line stand in the final seconds.
Manasquan (2-1, 1-1) marched down to the Middletown South 2-yard line and had a fourth-and-one with 32 seconds left, but the Eagles’ defense stuffed Manasquan junior running back Connor Morgan on a toss to clinch the win. Senior defensive lineman Will Gulick came from the backside and got his arms around Morgan while junior linebacker Chris Patterson and senior safety Samson Dube met him head on to drive him back.
“It’s Vic Kubu Field, and seriously, I don’t care what anybody says, this is not an easy place to play,” said Middletown South head coach Steve Antonucci. “We were able to get a win today, but it wasn’t easy.”
Sophomore James Pendergist intercepted Middletown South quarterback Aneesh Agrawal in the end zone to keep Manasquan alive with 6:13 left to play. The Warriors mounted a 13-play drive to nearly pull off the upset, keyed by a 35-yard halfback option pass form Morgan to senior wide out Damaso Jaime on fourth-and-two from the Manasquan 28. Runs by Morgan and sophomore Canyon Birch moved the ball to the Middletown South 26, and an eight-yard pass from senior quarterback Jerry Maher to Jaime put the ball at the 18. Two plays later, Morgan converted a third-and-two with a six-yard run to give Manasquan the ball at the Eagles’ 12-yard line. A 6-yard reception by Jamie got the Warriors to the 6-yard line, but Middletown South’s defense stopped Morgan on three straight plays to run their winning streak to 15 games.
Middletown South sophomore running back Anthony Summey ran for a game-high 112 yards and scored two touchdowns, while Agrawal also had a touchdown run. Morgan ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns for Manasquan. Maher completed 8 of 15 passes for 91 yards.
Junior defensive tackle Jake Bancala had two sacks for Middletown South, while junior linebacker Chaz Alessi had a sack and a tackle for loss. Patterson was in on numerous stops and had two tackles for no gain. Senior Adam Schreck had a sack, a forced fumble and a tackle for loss for Manasquan while Meyer has a sack and an interception. Senior Dylan Pacetti also registered a sack for the Warriors.
Manasquan marched down the field on the game’s opening possession to take a 7-0 lead. Morgan carried four times for 31 yards, capping the eight-play, 42-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
Middletown South would tie the game in the second quarter with an eight-play, 80-yard drive. Agrawal hit senior Jeff Lewandowski for 11 yards on first down before Summey broke runs of 14 and 18 yard to get into Manasquan territory. A 10-yard run by Dube, and eight-yard catch by Lewandowski and a 16-yard run by Summey set up his own 2-yard touchdown run.
The Eagles took the lead for good late in the first half when Dube returned a punt 50 yards to the Manasquan 5-yard line. Two plays later, Summey plowed in from three yards out for a 14-7 halftime lead. The advantage stretched to 21-7 late in the third quarter when Agrawal capped an eight-play, 52-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run.
Manasquan had not mounted much offense since its initial scoring drive, but responded immediately to cut the deficit back to seven. A long kickoff return by senior Kyle LeBlanc set the Warriors up at the Middletown South 45-yard line. A 28-yard reception by Schreck on third down moved the chains, and a 13-yard run by Morgan made it first-and-goal and set up his two-yard touchdown run.
Emotions ran high after the game for Antonucci and his son Tommy, who is a junior wide receiver and defensive back for Manasquan. For the first time in his career, he had to coach against his son.
“It was really awkward,” Steve Antonucci said. “We didn’t really talk until Thursday and it got pretty emotional. It was a hard experience. I’m proud of him, though. I had a front row seat to watch my son, which was awesome. It was a very proud moment.”
“It was very awkward in the house,” Tommy Antonucci said. “We talked about that the other night. He came in my room and asked how I was doing, and I said ‘I hate this. I want to tell you so many things but I can’t because it’s you versus me’. It was emotional week, it was rough. Pregame was emotional. There were tears in my eyes during the national anthem. But we did it and it’s over, thanks god.”
Antonucci had a pass breakup and a handful of tackles in the secondary.
“He prepared himself this week better than I’ve ever seen a kid prepare himself,” said Manasquan head coach Jay Price. “The way he talked in practice; he knows the game, he’s a coach’s kid. He went about it like it was business. You watch him play today and he didn’t play like he was distracted. He made three great plays today and that comes from watching film and being fundamental. He played his (butt) off today.”
No. 1 Middletown South 21, Manasquan 14
Middletown South (3-0, 3-0) 0 14 7 0 — 21
Manasquan (2-1, 1-1) 7 0 0 7 — 14
Ma — Connor Morgan 3-yard run (Adam Schreck kick)
MS — Anthony Summey 2-yard run (Chris Kaldrovics kick)
MS — Anthony Summey 3-yard run (Chris Kaldrovics kick)
MS — Aneesh Agrawal 3-yard run (Chris Kaldrovics kick)
Ma — Connor Morgan 2-yard run (Adam Schreck kick)
Rushing — MS: Anthony Summey 20-112, Maxx Imsho 2-17, Aneesh Agrawal 13-15, Samson Dube 1-10; Ma: Connor Morgan 32-106, Canyon Birch 5-19, Tommy Meyer 5-12, Damaso Jaime 1-2, Jack Mallett 1-0, Jerry Maher 4-(-29).
Passing — MS: Aneesh Agrawal 10-19-2 93; Ma: Jerry Maher 8-15-0 91, Connor Morgan 1-1-0 35.
Receiving — MS: Jeff Lewandowski 4-43, Samson Dube 4-36, Jeremy Joyce 2-14; Ma: Damaso Jaime 3-49, Adam Schreck 2-41, Kyle LeBlanc 2-24, Tommy Meyer 2-12.
Interceptions — Ma: Tommy Meyer 1-0, James Pendergist 1-0.
Football editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.