Reevey, Corley Help Long Branch Shut Down Jackson Memorial in CJ 4 Playoffs
JACKSON TWP. – Finally healthy after a bumpy regular season, Long Branch is eager to show its full capabilities in the state playoffs.
Behind a physical defense and a ball-control offense, the sixth-seeded Green Wave went on the road and stifled third-seeded Jackson Memorial 13-0 in the first round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 4 playoffs on Friday night at John J. Munley Field.
“This is our first ever game where everyone's healthy, and now you can see our full potential,” junior linebacker Joseph Corley said.
The Green Wave (5-4), ranked No. 14 in the Shore Sports Network Shore 16, advance to play second-seeded Brick Memorial (10-0) next Friday in the semifinals. Long Branch held Jackson Memorial to 133 total yards in registering their first shutout since 2021.
It also marked the second straight season they have gone on the road to pull out a win in the first round of the state playoffs after stunning Pennsauken last season.
“People were sleeping on us, so all we did was tuck 'em in,” senior quarterback/safety Earnest Reevey said.
Reevey played his second game without a cast on his throwing hand after wearing it for a majority of the fall following a broken right hand in the season opener. He completed only two passes, but both were huge, and it’s a dimension he couldn’t bring until just recently.
“I could do it in practice, but we were just taking our time with it,” he said about throwing as his hand mended.
The defense blanked the Jaguars (7-2), ranked No. 10 in the SSN Shore 16, by making Jackson Memorial star sophomore running back Jonah Glenn earn his yards and completely shutting down the passing game. The 1,400-yard rusher finished with 102 yards on 21 carries and was never able to get free for a run longer than 14 yards.
“Jonah is a really good running back,” Long Branch head coach Chad King said. “Our kids watched film, they played hard, and it was just a matter of executing. We just wanted to be fundamentally sound.”
Corley led the way with four tackles for a loss and was consistently knifing into the backfield. It was a bounceback effort for the Green Wave against a potent running attack after giving up 185 yards rushing to Colts Neck star Chris Scully a week earlier in a 57-20 loss.
“We just had to play our game and read our keys,” Corley said. “Linebackers, watch our guards. Just follow Jonah's steps, and we take him down. I was able to get a peel back, scrape, get under the guard and get tackles for losses.
“We saw that they had the tight end and twins on the other side, and one back. If there's one back, we just mirror him. Wherever he goes, that's where the ball's going. Just follow him and make a play.”
While the offense didn’t put up a ton of points, it controlled the clock. The Green Wave won the time of possession battle 28:35 to 19:25, including a drive that lasted 5:09 in the heart of the fourth quarter that didn’t result in points but bled the clock at a crucial juncture.
Long Branch took the lead for good with an 8-play, 66-yard drive in the first quarter that ended on Reevey’s screen pass to senior running back Zaheem Brown, who took it 26 yards to the house. A penalty backed up the extra point and it was no good for a 6-0 lead with 3:31 left in the period.
That was enough for the Green Wave to keep the lead right there at halftime. A booming hit on a wideout by junior linebacker Havier Gonzalez killed one Jaguars drive by forcing an incompletion.
The Green Wave also swarmed Glenn for a five-yard loss on fourth down at their own 36 on another drive, and junior cornerback Christopher Moses picked off a pass right before the half to keep a goose egg on the scoreboard.
Long Branch gave itself some breathing room with an 8-play, 61-yard drive to start the third quarter that ended on a 1-yard keeper by Reevey for a 13-0 lead. The crucial play came on third-and-8 when Reevey unloaded a deep shot and junior wideout Aulander Daniels made a sensational catch over a defender for a 38-yard gain to Jackson's 24-yard line.
“Ernie probably couldn't have thrown that two weeks ago with the cast on, and Aulander made a great play,” King said.
Jackson Memorial only managed four first downs for the rest of the game after the Green Wave took a two-score lead. Once Glenn was stopped, the Jaguars had no real Plan B.
The extra touchdown helped remove Glenn from the game plan and forced the Jaguars to go to the air. Long Branch held Jackson Memorial quarterback Dennis Caswell to 5-for-21 passing for 31 yards.
“It all started up front,” Reevey said. “We had to get a push to give us time to cover.”
“That was part of the game plan to try to get ahead of them on the sticks,” King said.
Jackson Memorial had a chance to make it interesting when it drove to the Green Wave’s 15-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but Reevey hit Glenn for a two-yard loss on second down and then Long Branch forced two straight incompletions for a turnover on downs.
The offense then picked up a pair of first downs to drain the clock until there was only 2:57 remaining with a two-score lead. Senior Da’Von Craft got the hard yards after contact all night to finish with 86 yards on 16 carries.
It was one of Long Branch’s most complete efforts this season.
“We've been like a 24-minute team at times,” Corley said. “But today, in this playoff game, this full 48 minutes, we put it together and got the job done.”
Long Branch 13, Jackson Memorial 0
. L J
First downs 12 9
Rushes-yards 34-138 24-102
Passing 2-4-0 5-21-1
Passing yards 64 31
Penalties 6-40 6-30
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Long Branch (5-4) 6 0 7 0 - 13
Jackson Mem. (7-2) 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brown 26-yard pass from Reevey (kick failed).
Reevey 1-yard run (Garcia kick).
Rushing – L: Craft 16-86, Brown 7-19, Reevey 11-33. J: Glenn 21-102, Hernandez 1-(-3), Caswell 1-(-5), Bigelow 1-8.
Passing – L: Reevey 2-4-0 64. J: Caswell 5-21-1 31.
Receiving – L: Brown 1-26, Daniels 1-38. J: Hernandez 3-17, Glenn 1-(-1), Williams 1-15.
Interceptions – L: Moses 1-0.