Jersey Mike’s Football Team of the Week: Pinelands
Every week this fall, Jersey Mike’s and Shore Sports Network will be selecting a Team of the Week based on its performance over the past weekend.
The Jersey Mike’s Team of the Week for Week 2 is Pinelands, which rallied for a 26-22 victory over Matawan for its first win of the season. Shore Sports Network was at practice Tuesday to present the Wildcats and head coach Matt Fuller with a special game ball and a $500 Jersey Mike's gift card.
Trailing 16-0, Pinelands rallied for the thrilling victory thanks to an offensive line that paved the way for a 397-yard rushing performance. Senior running back Evan Burton ran for 261 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries and sophomore running back Nik DiLeo ran for 133 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Matawan jumped put to a 16-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a 40-yard fumble return touchdown, a touchdown pass and a safety, and the Huskies looked like they were going to put the game away early. Pinelands' defense buckled down, however, and Burton began the rally with a 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and added a 2-point conversion run to cut Matawan's lead in half entering halftime.
DiLeo scored on a 1-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter, but the 2-point conversion attempt failed, leaving Matawan in front, 16-14. Burton's 3-yard touchdown run gave Pinelands its first lead of the game before Matawan responded with a touchdown run to pull back in front, 22-20. Burton's 20-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter put the Wildcats ahead, 26-22, and completed the comeback.
It's been a season filled with adversity already for the Wildcats, who are without a school and a home field for 2018. Pinelands Regional High School is undergoing construction, which has forced the teachers and students to move across the street to a now jam-packed junior high school. The Wildcats' football field is also being redone, so they were not supposed to have any home games this season. Saturday's game vs. Matawan was played at the Little Egg Harbor Sports Complex.
Pinelands began the season with a 41-8 loss to Mater Dei Prep, which is now ranked No. 2 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10. A 31-0 loss to Shore followed to put the Wildcats in an 0-2 hole, but the Week 2 win over Matawan could be the spark the team needed to begin to turn things around.
The Wildcats will try to keep the momentum going when they take on unbeaten Barnegat (2-0) in Week 3.