Jackson Liberty Football Team Starts Season with First Program 3-0 Record
The Jackson Liberty High School Lions traveled to Manchester to play the Hawks for their third game of the season and picked up another win defeating Manchester, 28-12 and putting the Lions record at 3-0.
Liberty won the toss and elected to receive the kickoff, and they wasted no time in getting some points on the board. The Lions started their first drive on their own 31 yard line and were able to move the ball up field on two rushing plays by #14 Anthony Sasso and a pass to #5 Matt Castronuova who was able to take the second pass of the drive into the end zone for Liberty’s first touchdown. #11 Mike Ostrowski, split the uprights to add the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 10:38 remaining in the first quarter.
Not to be outdone, Manchester responded with a quick touchdown, taking only 1:38 after #33, Devante Shepard ran right up the middle for the Hawks first six points. The point after attempt was blocked allowing the Lions to hold onto the lead.
The next drive started on the Liberty 13 yard line when #34 Justin Goodman was able to recover a fumbled ball. Several big rushing plays from #30 Bruce Almodovar and Sasso, put Liberty on the 6 yard line of Manchester, when Sasso took the handoff up the middle for another Lions touchdown. Of course, “Mr. Automatic”, Mike Ostrowski kicked another extra point through to put the score at 14-6, but that would be all the scoring in the first half for Liberty.
Manchester would not be outdone, and with less than 5 minutes remaining in the first half and on their third possession of the game after a turnover on downs at midfield, the Hawks got their running game going. They saw big gains on rushes from #20 Shaquille Benjamin, #3 Devin Tomei, and #5 Damiun Moore which set up a 23 yard pass from Tomei to #23 Mason Jones for another Manchester touchdown. The Hawks would go for two but the pass would fall incomplete making the score 14-12. The Liberty offense was unable to take advantage of some opportunities and a drive that put them inside the 20 with 36 seconds remaining in the 2nd quarter but an incomplete pass would result in a turnover on downs and the conclusion of the first half.
Coach Osborn, “challenged the defense at halftime” and they clearly responded as they forced several turnovers and had a chance for even more. Liberty saw #44 Ahmed Foster just miss an interception on Manchester’s first drive in the second half, but four plays later, the defense came through and forced a turnover on a sack and strip by #34 Goodman. Liberty’s offense was unable to do much on this drive and turned the ball over on downs.
Manchester would once again be dominated by the Lions defense, as Liberty would sack the quarterback for a big loss and on a 3rd and 1, Chris Cruz #55 would strip the ball away giving the Lions another shot on offense.
This time Liberty would not waste their chance and on a 2nd and 7 on the 42 yard line of Manchester, #30 Almodovar would run off the left side and down the sideline for another Lions td. Ostrowski would add the extra point and extend Liberty’s lead to 21-14 with 4:29 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Once again the Manchester Hawks found themselves running into a Lions defense that was hitting on all cylinders as Ahmed Foster would recover a fumble giving the ball back to the offense. After going 3 and out, Liberty was forced to punt, but Ostrowski had a great placed punt touched up at the 3 yard line by Castronuova pinning the Hawks deep in their own territory.
The Hawks were unable to muster up much offense at the hands of the Liberty defense and a sack by #65 Corey Foltzer and had to punt the ball. Liberty started their next drive at midfield, where they handed the ball off to #44, Foster who ran 50 yards for the score. Once again, Mike Ostrowski added the extra point to give the Lions the lead at 28-12 with 10:50 remaining in the game.
Manchester had a productive next drive, using 5:41 off the clock and getting the ball to the Lions 18, but on 4th and goal, once again, the defense was answered the call with an interception by Foster in the end zone for the touchback.
With time running out, Manchester on a 2nd and long saw yet another interception by the Lions, this time by #6 Nate Matos who was able to run it all the way back to the Manchester 22 yard line, where with only 41 seconds remaining in the game, the Jackson Liberty Lions would take a knee securing third win to the delight of a loud and supportive group of “Red Zone” fans who came to support their team.
Coach Osborn would say after the game, “We still have some corrections to make on offense, but this is a group of kids that have bought into the team concept and do just as much work off the field as they do on it and I suspect they will turn it around”.
Jackson Liberty will face off against a tough Barnegat opponent at home next Friday at 7pm as they look to continue their winning ways and make a statement in what All Shore Media has referred to as a “pivotal game” as Barnegat is coming off a 24-21 loss to Mon Don.