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BRICK TOWNSHIP – It has been a tough year for Brick Memorial, but the result of Saturday’s game sure changes the mentality for the entire Mustangs football program.

Senior quarterback T.J. McArthur ran for a touchdown and threw a touchdown pass and Brick Memorial’s defense came through with several clutch stops in the fourth quarter as the Mustangs held off archrival Brick, 14-13, at Keller Memorial Field to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Dragons.

McArthur ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries and completed 8 of 15 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown as the Mustangs won their second straight game after an 0-4 start and dropped Brick to 1-5. McArthur’s 15-yard touchdown pass to senior Akhi Barksdale late in the third quarter held up as the winning touchdown.

“This was a huge win for our whole team, the whole program, everybody who’s played before us,” McArthur said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better. It’s something that will make my month, make my year even.”

“We were banged up pretty good early in the season but we’re starting to get some kids back and that win last week (21-7 over then-No. 8 Toms River South) gave us a little momentum,” said Brick Memorial head coach Walt Currie. “We believe that if we play our game we can win and I think we showed that today.”

It was a defensive battle from the start and neither team finished with more than 200 yards of offense. Brick Memorial’s defense was just a tad better, limiting Brick to 173 yards of offense - all of which came on the ground - while forcing two turnovers and then two turnovers on downs in the final eight minutes of the game.

“Our defense played lights out in those closing minutes and was able to shut the door,” Currie said. “Coach (Rob) Brown and the defensive staff did an amazing job and the kids executed it.”

A fumble recovery by senior defensive back Jason Jankowski three plays into the game set up Brick Memorial for its first touchdown. Following the turnover, which gave the Mustangs the ball at midfield, Brick Memorial marched 50 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead. A 14-yard run by junior running back Jake LaRocca on third-and-eight moved the ball to Brick’s 34-yard line and on fourth-and-seven from the 33, McArthur connected with senior wide receiver JT Henderson for 23 yards. On third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, McArthur picked a hole on the right side and plunged into the end zone with 5:25 left in the first quarter.

Brick answered on the next series with a six-play, 63-yard scoring drive. A 16-yard run by junior running back Michael Schleifer moved the ball to the Brick Memorial 28-yard line and three plays later, Schleifer found running room up the middle and scampered into the end zone on an 18-yard touchdown run. Hao Tang’s extra point knotted the score at seven with 2:35 left in the first quarter.

The score remained tied through halftime. Brick came up with a defensive stand when it stopped Brick Memorial on fourth-and-two from the Dragons 26-yard line. After the teams traded punts, Jankowski flew in to make an interception and returned it to the Brick 37-yard line with 3:39 left in the half. On third-and-14, McArthur hit junior running back Mike Angrosina on a seam route for 26 yards down to the 3-yard line.

The next sequence was bizarre. On first down, McArthur scored a touchdown but was ruled down at the three because his helmet came off, requiring the official to whistle the play dead. A fumble on second down was recovered by a Brick Memorial lineman at the 6-yard line and Brick Memorial frantically rushed to the line to spike the ball and stop the clock. The Mustangs never got set and were flagged for an illegal procedure penalty, but Brick was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The ball moved to the 3-yard line and Brick Memorial, out of timeouts at this point, rushed its kicking unit out to attempt a last-second field goal, which ultimately missed the mark.

Brick Memorial took the second-half kickoff and marched from its own 31-yard line to the end zone, capping a 15-play drive with McArthur’s touchdown pass to Barksdale. McArthur had 11 carries and four pass attempts on the drive as the Mustangs methodically moved into Brick territory. On fourth-and-six from the 15-yard line, McArthur found Barksdale on a short route and the senior playmaker made a man miss and scooted into the end zone for a 14-7 lead.

As in the first quarter, Brick answered on the ensuing possession with an 11-play, 58-yard drive. On a second-and-eight from midfield, senior running back Anthony Seaman got the corner and sprinted 25 yards to the Mustangs’ 25-yard line. Two plays later, senior quarterback Joaquin Ragland ripped off a 22-yard run to make it first-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Ragland then surged into the end zone on a quarterback sneak to pull the Dragons within one point. The extra point try was unsuccessful, however, when it clanged off the right upright. Brick Memorial led 14-13 with 9:32 left in the game.

The remaining eight minutes put Brick Memorial’s defense in some precarious positions, but the Mustangs came through twice to hold on for the streak-busting victory. Starting from their own 20-yard line, a tackle for loss by Brick senior Shane Bosko on first down and a sack by sophomore Colin Wilson on second down forced Brick Memorial to punt from its own 13-yard line. This is where things got really interesting.

The snap on the punt was high and by the time McArthur leaped to pull it down the Brick rush was right in his face. He scrambled to his right for running room but was quickly walled off. He then spun around and fired a pass to a wide-open Jake Gallo, but Brick senior safety Austin Lungren, who was the punt returner on the play, delivered a huge hit to knock the ball free and force a turnover on downs. Brick now had the ball at the Brick Memorial 13-yard line.

Three straight runs by Seaman brought up fourth-and-three from the 6-yard line and Brick decided to go for it, but the Mustangs forced an incomplete pass to take over on downs. Brick Memorial was unable to gain a first down on the next series, however, and had to punt once again. This time the snap was clean and McArthur boomed a punt that was fielded just inside Brick Memorial territory at the 49-yard line with 3:05 on the clock.

“Our kids dug deep on that drive,” Currie said. “They had to keep Brick out of the end zone in that spot and they came up big.”

A cut blocked pushed Brick back 10 yards on first down, but the Dragons received a boost when Barksdale was called for a questionable pass interference penalty on third-and-17. Seamen then converted a third-and-two to move the ball to the Brick Memorial 37-yard line. But from there, the Mustangs yielded nothing. Seaman was stuffed for no gain on first down and Ragland’s pass on second down was incomplete. On third down, McArthur chased down Ragland for a sack and a 7-yard loss. On fourth-and-11 from the 38-yard line, Brick Memorial forced one more incomplete pass to take over on downs and clinch the win.

“Late in the game we knew we’d bring in extra DBs so my job was as quarterback spy,” McArthur said. “I saw him roll out and made the play.”

Over the past seven years, what could go wrong usually did for Brick Memorial when it faced Brick. In some years, the Dragons were flat-out better and won convincingly. In others, it was one or two mistakes that doomed the Mustangs. This time, they found a way, and a major key was playing with less emotion than in years past when the game was the season-opener.

“It’s easy to lose your composure and our kids did not do that,” Currie said. “They played disciplined football and didn’t get involved with an after-the-whistle stuff, which sometimes both teams get caught up in.”

“A lot of us have been here before and played in this game, so we know everything that goes into it,” McArthur said. “We didn’t want to come in there with the attitude thinking we hate Old Brick or anything. We came in calm and said we’ll celebrate after.”

 

Box Score

Brick Memorial 14, Brick 13 

 Brick MemorialBrick
First downs1111
Rushes-yards34-9930-173
Passing8-15-00-7-1
Passing yards990
Fumbles-lost2-01-1
Penalties-yards6-555-45

 

 1234F
Brick Memorial (2-4)707014
Brick (1-5)700613

 

Scoring Summary

BM – TJ McArthur 2-yard run (Mike Occhiogrosso kick)

BT – Michael Schleifer 18-yard run (Hao Tang kick)

BM – Akhi Barksdale 15-yard pass from TJ McArthur (Mike Occhiogrosso kick)

BT – Joaquin Ragland 2-yard run (kick failed)

 

Individual Statistics

RUSHING – BM: TJ McArthur 27-88, Jake LaRocca 2-22, Akhi Barksdale 2-(-1), Team 3-(-10); BT: Anthony Seaman 11-73, Michael Schleifer 9-60, Joaquin Ragland 7-32, Jason Norman 2-9, Team 1-(-1).

PASSING – BM: TJ McArthur 8-15-0 99; BT: Joaquin Ragland 0-7-1 0.

RECEIVING – BM: Mike Angrosina 1-26, JT Henderson 2-25, Tim Quackenboss 2-21, Akhi Barksdale 2-16, Jason Jankowski 1-11.

INTERCEPTIONS – BM: Jason Jankowski 1-15.

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.

 

 

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