Football – Suffocating Defense Leads No. 10 Point Boro Past Lacey
LACEY TOWNSHIP – Heading down to Lacey for an important early-season Shore Conference Class B South game, Point Boro wanted to be sure its message was heard loud and clear.
“This was a statement game,” said senior Brandon Cipriano. “We wanted to come out here and show we’re going to lead B South. We wanted to come out strong and show everybody what we’re capable of.”
The Panthers, ranked No. 10 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, did exactly that with a dominating 27-0 victory over the host Lions on Saturday afternoon to remain atop the B South standings. Senior quarterback James Fara ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, and also threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Cipriano, who later added a 68-yard touchdown run.
Point Boro’s defense suffocated Lacey’s running game to the tune of 22 yards on 21 attempts, and allowed just 101 total yards and six first downs. Even more impressive was the fact Point Boro did it without one of its best players, senior ‘A’ back/linebacker Tanner Gordon, who missed the game with an injury.
“It was ‘next guy up’ and they did a really nice job doing that,” said Point Boro head coach Matt Cilento. “It’s very upbeat for us knowing our kids can step right in and we don’t lose a beat.”
From the start, Point Boro’s defense was keyed in on Lacey’s running game, forcing three straight three-and-outs before forcing a turnover on the fourth Lacey possession via a sack and forced fumble by Christian Aurin and a recovery by Tyler Sanchez. In the meantime, the Panthers’ offense was doing its thing.
Fara put Point Boro up 7-0 with a 33-yard touchdown run with 3:43 left in the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter he broke off a fantastic 82-yard touchdown run, beating the Lacey defense down the visiting sideline and even breaking free of a tackle attempt that drew a flag for a face mask.
A three-yard punt by Lacey gave Point Boro a chance to extend its lead before halftime, and the Panthers were able to capitalize in highlight-reel fashion. With one second remaining in the first half, Fara lofted a pass to Cipriano, who was able to pin it to his shoulder pads before cradling it as he fell to the ground in the end zone. His 23-yard touchdown catch sent Point Boro into the locker room with a 20-0 lead.
“I gotta give it to my quarterback, that couldn’t have been a better ball,” Cipriano said. “He threw it up and I went up and made a play.”
“We tried to control the clock the best we could there and give ourselves a chance right before the half, to go in with momentum,” Cilento said. “James put the ball right on the money and Cipriano did a nice job keeping his hands down until the last second.”
Point Boro ran just 14 offensive plays in the second half, but it mattered little with its defense continuing to swarm Lacey. The Lions crossed into Point Boro territory for the first time all game when Jason Giresi blasted Cipriano on a pitch and jarred the ball loose. Joseph Dow recovered at the 47-yard line, and a pass interference penalty two plays later moved the ball to the Panthers’ 32-yard line. Lacey would get no close to the end zone, however, as Point Boro stuffed Giresi for no gain on first down before forcing three straight incomplete passes.
On the next play after Point Boro took over possession, Cipriano took a pitch and raced 68 yards to the end zone, putting the Panthers up 27-0 and burying Lacey with 2:56 to play in the third quarter.
“It was tough losing him last year because we knew what he could do for us,” said Cilento of Cipriano, who was injured midseason last year and missed the rest of the season. “He has a lot of speed on the edge for us and opens up a lot of options because he can catch the ball and he can run it.”
Two games into the season, Point Boro looks every bit the favorite it was pegged as to start the season. With a veteran offense piloted by a proven playmaker and a defense that is smart, fast and physical, the Panthers are legitimate championship contender.
No. 10 Point Boro 27, Lacey 0
Point Boro (2-0, 2-0) 7 13 7 0 – 27
Lacey (1-1, 0-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
James Fara 33-yard run (Nathan Chiarello kick)
James Fara 82-yard run (kick failed)
James Fara 23-yard pass to Brandon Cipriano (Nathan Chiarello kick)
Brandon Cipriano 68-yard run (Nathan Chiarello kick)
RUSHING – PB: James Fara 15-157, Brandon Cipriano 6-84, Nathan Chiarello 9-21; L: Jason Giresi 13-29, Anthony Tobia 3-6, Dylan Gudzak 2-4, Devin Porsch 1-0, Coleton Klaus 1-(-7), team 1-(-10).
PASSING – PB: James Fara 4-4-0 55; L: Coleton Klaus 8-21-0 57, Dylan Gudzak 2-5-0 22.
RECEIVING – PB: Brandon Cipriano 4-55; L: Tanner Miick 5-42, Ryan Kilmurray 2-18, Jason Giresi 2-18, Dylan Gudzak 1-1.
Managing 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.