Jackson Liberty Clinches First Playoff Berth; First Above .500 Season with Win over Monsignor Donovan
Jackso–After an extra week and a day off from action, the Liberty Lions roared back onto the playing field in Toms River against the Griffins of Monsignor Donovan, who with a victory were looking to secure the Class B South title.
Liberty won the toss and immediately went to work in what would be a very physical game. On the fourth play of the game, the Griffins would come after standout sophomore Matt Castronuova #5 and hit him out of bounds into the bench which caused a brief fight on the Liberty sideline, that would see the ejection of #2 of Mon Don, Vincent Grasso, their starting quarterback. This drive would stall for Liberty, but the team became motivated and played with determination and on their second possession of the game Castronuova would hit #6 Nate Matos for the 4 yard completion and touchdown, with #11 Mike Ostrowski adding the PAT.
The defense played shut down football and kept the Griffins offense off of the field, forcing turnovers including a forced fumble by #34 Justin Goodman, which was picked up and returned for a touchdown by #55 Chris Cruz and an interception by #5 Matt Castronuova late in the 2nd quarter. The Lions defense returned to their early season form and held Mon Don to less than 20 plays from scrimmage in the first half. Lions went into halftime with a 14-0 lead.
The start of the 2nd half would be more of the same, the Lions D-Line, came out and pressured Mon Don’s quarterback, #6 Zach Skesavage and eventually sacked him on 3rd down and 8 on the Liberty 11. The next play, linebacker, Ahmed Foster, #44 would also record a sack, forcing a turnover on downs. Liberty, however, was unable to get anything going on the offensive side of the ball and they were forced to punt the ball away.
In the 4th quarter, Castronuova, who was named the Shore Sports Network “player of the game” would get his second interception of the game, and the offense would take advantage of the turnover and put up another touchdown on the great second effort 5 yard carry by #23 Dom Regina giving the Lions their 21-0 lead with only 3 minutes left in the game which would stand as the final score. The Liberty defense was not done playing smash mouth football (+6 in total turnovers) and with just over 2 minutes remaining in the game, #4 James Connell would get an interception after #34 Justin Goodman would hit the quarterback as he released the ball which would seal the shutout win and higher playoff seed, sparing them of having to face a very good Sayreville team in the first round.