Barnegat Hands Jackson Liberty First Loss of Season
By Dean Pinto
Photos by Rich Demcyzszyn
In what was a very physical game wherein the previously undefeated Lions faced off against the defending Class B South Division Champs Barnegat Bengals. Both teams felt each other out for the first 36 minutes where defense ruled and the game was truly a “game of inches” as Barnegat’s kicker #21 Pat Moran attempted two field goal attempts, the first a 40 yard try hit high up on the right upright, and the second a 42 yard attempt was denied by the crossbar.
Field position proved crucial in the first half as well, and when it appeared Barnegat was threatening to push deep into Lions territory, a huge sack by #65 Corey Foltzer would thwart that effort. The second field goal attempt by Moran was set up by the tipped pass interception which allowed Barnegat’s #43 Ed Santiago to take it down to the 26 yard line of the Lions.
Neither team was able to do much on the offensive side with Liberty only getting one first down in the first quarter and Barnegat not doing much better as there was only a minute remaining in the quarter when they finally moved the chains.
Barnegat received the second half kickoff and on their first drive they ran into a fired up defensive line of Liberty, when the Lions #34 Justin Goodman forced a fumble which was recovered by #55 Chris Cruz. Once again, the defensive squads of both teams were holding a clinic as the game remained scoreless through the third quarter.
The Lions offense would start the 4th quarter 2nd and 2 on their own 18 yard line when Junior fullback #30 Bruce Almodovar would get the ball up to the 24 yard line for a first down which seemed to fire up the offense and get them into a rhythm. Two plays later, #10 QB Bob Davies hit #40 Jeremy Sousa who leaped to make a great catch which fired up the large home crowd.
The drive would continue with an end around/reverse to #5 Matt Castronuova who would take it around the left side and down the sideline for a huge gain to the 41 of Barnegat. That is where the Lions would put the ball into the hands of Bruce Almodovar who behind the great blocking of the offensive line would carry the Lions on his back to their first touchdown.
Almodovar would carry the ball through and over defenders on five consecutive plays moving the ball 41 yards and with 6:42 remaining in regulation would cross body stiff arm his way from the 15 yard line into the end zone. Mike Ostrowski # 11 would add the extra point and it seemed Liberty was on its way to a 4-0 start.
Unfortunately, the Bengals would not be outdone and they answered with a 4:13 long drive and on an over the middle pass from #1 QB Ricky Gerena to #21 Pat Moran the Bengals got on the board with 6. Despite the extra point kick being tipped by the Lions, it sailed high and far through the uprights to knot the game at 7 with 2:06 left in regulation.
The Lions would once again ask Almodovar to move the ball and he responded with 4 rushing plays for 23 yards. On 3rd and 4, Davies would hit a jumping Castronuova for a first down with time winding down. On 4th down and as regulation came to an end, Davies uncorked a long pass which fell incomplete bringing the game into overtime.
Barnegat elected to start overtime on defense and on 2nd and 6, the Lions fumbled the ball giving Barnegat the chance to win the game. The Bengals were able to move the ball down to the 4 yard line and on 1st and goal, Bruce Almodovar stripped the ball out of the hands of the running back #23 Tyler McGuinness, sending the game into a 2nd overtime.
Barnegat five plays later on 4th and goal at the 1 yard line would hand the ball to #43 Ed Santiago for the touchdown. The extra point was kicked, giving Barnegat the lead 14-7.
The Lions would answer with a pass to Jeremy Sousa, a handoff to Almodovar and a 3 yard touchdown run by #14 Anthony Sasso. The Lions would call a timeout and after lining up to go for a 2 point conversion and the win, they suffered an illegal substitution penalty backing them up 5 yards. The Lions lined up for a 2 point conversion again, and this time QB Bob Davies under some pressure threw a pass intended for an open Matt Castronuova, but the ball sailed out of the end zone handing Barnegat the win.
Barnegat’s head coach Rob Davis would say after the game, “We played a very good football team, an undefeated team. We challenged our guys and we came out lucky”.
Coach Osborn stated that he expected his players to bounce back after the tough loss and “They worked hard and wanted to win the game”, and were “upset…and deservedly so.”
The Lions have a bye this week to lick and heal their wounds, and come back to face Lakewood on October 12th with a 7pm kick off at home.