In a game that I would classify as The Mud Bowl, The Brick Dragons took defensive football to another level. It was a stingy effort by the Brick defensive line that helped lead the team to a 2-0 victory over rival Jackson Memorial on a very rainy night.
The conditions were almost unbearable to the point where the game probably should not have been played. However, this Dragons team was up to the challenge!
“We practiced outside the day before. We love this weather. This is a good old Brick football game”, said Brick WR Ja’Sir Taylor
Brothers Dan and Jack Finelli helped propel an attack within the trenches. The Dragons simply would not allow the Jaguars to cross the line of scrimmage. Brick held the Jackson Memorial offense to 70 total yards.
“Both Finelli’s played a huge game for us inside. They controlled the defensive line which was the key to not letting Jackson Memorial rush for many yards”, said Brick Head Coach Len Zdanowicz
All Star Running Backs Mike Gawlik and Vinny Lee were held to a combined 45 rushing yards. On a night when the weather pretty much took the passing game away, this made it very difficult for the Jaguars to get up the field.
“We wanted to execute our game plan to perfection. Everyone had to do their job and not allow any mistakes. This is what we did tonight to achieve a great overall win. We were able to play loose and fast just like Coach McNamara ( Defensive Coordinator) tells us to do”, added Defensive End Dan Finelli.
“The defense was excellent for the entire game. It all started up front with our defensive line. They have been unstoppable all year, added Linebacker Cory Wilson
The one scoring play came late in the 1st Quarter. Brick had held Jackson Memorial deep inside their own territory. The Jaguars were forced to punt from a bad position. A bad snap forced the ball out of the end zone, and Brick was awarded two points on the Safety. This was all the Dragons would need on this night.
Brick went into locker room with the 2-0 lead. They had an opportunity to extend the lead after Tom Zbranak found Javion Harris inside the 10 yard line. The Dragons would try to pound the ball inside, but it was Jackson Memorial who would keep the score intact. Brick did not try for a field goal, and turned the ball over on downs to close out the first half.
Jackson Memorial would get a little firepower going to start the 3rd Quarter. Kyle Johnson picked off a Dragons pass which gave Jackson great field position. At this point, Jackson was just looking for a little boost.
Quarterback Dan Barker would hit Kyle Lona for a 12 yard gain and a first down. Running Back Mike Gawlik would rip off his longest run of the night, moving the ball with a 22 yard gain.
However, the defense of the Dragons were not going to allow the Jaguars to cross the goal line. Linebackers Cory Wilson and Deano Helstowski were flying to the ball through the gaps. The Dragons sacked Dan Barker for a loss all the way back to the 9. This would move Jackson Memorial away from the goal line.
Jackson Memorial would bring on Jared Calhoun to attempt a field goal. This would setup one of two plays that won the game for the Dragons.
On 4th Down, Jared Calhoun would attempt a field goal to give Jackson Memorial the lead. After this play, the hero of the day was Matt Schleifer. Schleifer blew through the line of scrimmage and got a piece of the ball. The block once again denied Jackson Memorial a huge opportunity. The defense and special teams of the Dragons that would led the way.
“The block was huge. Calhoun is a good field goal kicker. Without that block, the game may have turned out differently, added Head Coach Len Zdanowicz.
“I have to give credit to former Head Coach Rob Dahl. The last two years we would practice blocking kicks every day. I just used the fundamentals that I was taught and made a big play”, said Matt Schleifer after the game.
Jackson Memorial would get the ball with five minutes left in the game trailing 2-0. The Jaguars would try to get the short passing game going, but it was the secondary of the Dragons that were all over the field. Octavian Battle made a key play on 3rd and long, deflecting a pass to stop this drive. Time was really becoming a factor.
Brick Twp would get their final possession with 3:52 left in the game. All the Dragons had to do was run the ball and control the clock. After cutting some time down, the game went down to a 3rd and 3 with 2:00 left.
The Dragons would make the second biggest play of the game. Offensive Coordinator Fred Sprengel made the decision to put the ball in the hands of his best playmaker. Tom Zbranak handed off to Ja’Sir Taylor who fought hard to convert the play. This was the first down that put the Dragons in the drivers seat late in the game.
“When coach called my number, the line made it very easy for me. Once I got through the hole, I continued to move my feet to advance the chains and keep the clock running”, added Taylor after the game.
The Dragons ran the time down on the clock after on 4th and Inches with :24 seconds to go. The team ran into celebration as time expired on the field. The Dragons were ecstatic after looking forward to this game for an entire year!
Brick Twp now moves into control within Class A South. The Dragons are 4-0 overall and in the division. The team has outscored their opponents 101-6 through the first 4 games. Defensively, they were able to shut down one of the best offenses in the Shore.
“This was a great feeling being able to get redemption after what they did to us last year. We always knew this win was possible, added Schleifer again.
“Honestly, I just can’t explain this feeling. We played one hell of a football game, added Cory Wilson again.
Next week Brick will be on the road against the Wall Crimson Knights. Last year, Wall was able to come into Brick and spoil the Dragons 4-0 start. This year, the team has other ideas going forward.
“Last year’s game was a heartbreaker. That motivates us to get revenge and the momentum we have now just makes it better, added Taylor again.
“We need to be able to put this win behind us when we step on the practice field Monday. It’s time to focus and have a great week, added Schleifer.
The Dragons made a statement tonight. Will they be able to keep this winning streak going? This defense is definitely for real.
Tonight they are one step closer to a Class A South Championship. They have made a strong argument to be further up in the SC Power Rankings!
Passing – Brick: Zbranak 4-8-1-56, Jackson: Barker 4-17-0-23
Rushing – Brick: Obenauer 14-46, McCall 10-6, Taylor 8-31, Zbranak 4-11, Helstowski 1- -1. Jackson: Gawlik 8-35, Lee 8-10, Barker 4- -6, Pellone 1-1.
Receiving – Brick: Taylor 2-46, Harris 1-10. Jackson: Lona 2-25, Lee 2- -2.
Brick – Safety after ball goes out of the end zone on a bad snap.
Keep up with NJSR as we continue with previews, recaps, and highlights throughout the weekend!