On a chilly October night, The Middletown South football team was able to overcome a slow start and defeat Brick Memorial 21-3. After two costly turnovers in the first quarter, the Eagles were able to rally around each other and make the plays that were needed. Matt Mosquera passed for 126 yards, including a 46 yard completion to Jeremy Joyce to set up the first touchdown of the game. Cole Rogers rushed for 105 yards on 22 carries and a score. James McCarthy also added two touchdowns.
“Cole Rogers picked his spots nicely and made the cuts. The offensive line was able to open the holes that were needed. Our defense also did a great job picking us up. Brick Memorial is a hard offense to defend. Three points for the entire game was really outstanding! All the credit goes to them”, stated Quarterback Matt Mosquera.
“We knew we had to stick to the game plan. We’re a good football team, but so are they. This was going to be a battle. We got some opportunities in the Second Quarter that we were able to take advantage of. That is how you win these kind of games, added Head Coach Steve Antonucci.
Brick Memorial came into the game with a lot of fire. The Mustangs were coming off a five game winning streak and were waiting for this opportunity. Middletown South is the No 1 ranked team in the Shore by media rankings. One thing is certain, it can be very lonely at the top. The Eagles are currently the most hunted team in the Conference. Everyone wants to get a shot!
The defensive line of the Mustangs got a ton of penetration to open the game. The team was able to force a three and out on Middletown South’s first possession. The offense responded as Tim Santiago ripped off a run down to the 22 yard line. Matt Cuppari finished the drive by drilling a 40 yard Field Goal to give Brick Memorial an early 3-0 lead. Cuppari has been so reliable for the Mustangs throughout the season.
The Brick Memorial defense continued their success by forcing two huge turnovers. Both Justin Hans and Eli Lavarin came up with key interceptions to stall two Middletown South drives. Unfortunately, Brick Memorial could not convert any of these possessions into points. These are the moments that can make or break a team in such a big game.
Middletown South got the ball back, and once again found themselves in a jam. The Eagles faced a 4th down inside their own 36 yard line. The Front Seven of the Mustangs were relentless and not allowing many plays to be made. From there, it was an encroachment penalty that would give the Eagles an automatic first down. Middletown South really dodged a bullet by not having to give the ball back to Brick Memorial in this situation.
All season long, Matt Mosquera has made play after play and this was not going to change tonight. On the very next play, Mosquera rolled out and fired a bullet to Wide Receiver Jeremy Joyce that went 46 yards all the way down to the 2 yard line. If I could describe this completion in any way, it was the one that seemed to take the energy right out of the Mustangs. Mosquera followed that up by handing the ball to James McCarthy who battled his way across the goal line to give the Eagles a 7-3 advantage.
“Jeremy did a great job getting behind the coverage. He was in the right position and able to make a big play, added Mosquera again on the pass to Joyce.
The Second Quarter truly belonged to James McCarthy. McCarthy is extremely talented and a big part of this Eagles team on both sides of the ball. The Junior would make his presence felt once again, picking off a Brick Memorial pass and running down to the Mustangs 15 yard line. In a matter of minutes, this was a totally different ball game.
“We knew we had to hang tough. When the chance was there, I was able to make a play. It really says a lot about our defense as a whole to be able to turn the tide of a game. The interception was definitely a momentum shifter, added James McCarthy.
Matt Mosquera took off on a keeper around the left side for a 9 yard gain to bring the Eagles all the way down to the 2. McCarthy would finish what he started by hitting the end zone for his second score of the night. Just like that, the crowd was completely stunned. Mosquera booted the point after and Middletown South took a 14-3 lead with 3:50 left in the first half.
“James is a blue collar football player. He is always right there to take on all the hard work on both sides of the ball. He’s so important to this team. Offensively, he adds another element to our running game next to Cole”, said Head Coach Steve Antonucci.
Turnovers would haunt the Mustangs for a third straight time. Middletown South recovered a fumble inside the 13 yard line to get another short field. You could see the frustration within the Brick Memorial offense. This time, it was Cole Rogers who powered his way across the goal line from 2 yards out. Three straight touchdowns would send the Eagles into the locker room with a 21-3 lead.
The second half belonged to the linebackers of Middletown South. Dylan Rogers, Kevin Higgins, and James McCarthy have been a major force for the entire season. Those three would make their mark by not allowing Brick Memorial back into this game. Every time Brick Memorial tried to get the triple option going, these young players were right there to stop the play.
Brick Memorial had one big drive when they marched 66 yards down the field all the way to the Middletown South 17. Quarterback Tim Santiago sparked the series with a 14 yard run to get some of the momentum back. However, the Eagles forced yet another turnover to keep Memorial from capitalizing. Tom Coffey picked off a pass to keep Middletown South in the driver’s seat.
The Eagles would finish the game only giving up three points. Brick Memorial was limited to just 173 rushing yards throughout the game. Middletown South has only surrendered 45 points in 7 games. Just looking at that stat will let you know how scary of a team this really is. While the entire team is very encouraged after such a huge win, they know the hard work and preparation does not stop here.
This was a great win. It’s not pretty, but that’s football. We’ll get a little bit of a break for the bye week, then it’s right back to work. It all starts with Freehold Boro. We will prepare and get ready for them. It’s all about being ready for the stretch run and winning this division”, stated Head Coach Steve Antonucci.
“Tonight was an opportunity for us to come out and make a statement against a good football team. This brings us one step closer to getting home field advantage throughout the playoffs”, added Matt Mosquera.
Middletown South will have the next week off. They will return to action in Week 9 against Class A North rival Freehold Boro. The Eagles have clinched at least a share of the Class A North Champioinship. They can win it outright by defeating both Freehold Boro, and Middletown North.
Brick Memorial – Matt Cuppari 40 yard Field Goal.
Midd South – James McCarthy 2 yard run. ( Matt Mosquera kick)
Midd South – James McCarthy – 2 yard run. ( Matt Mosquera kick)
Midd South – Cole Rogers – 2 yard run. ( Matt Mosquera kick)
Passing: Midd South – Mosquera 12-18-126-2, Brick Memorial – Santiago 2-6-2-16.
Rushing: Midd South – C Rogers 22-105, Mosquera 3-18, McCarthy 3-7, Dube 1-6, Lewandowski 1-1. Brick Memorial: Santiago 19-90, Thorpe 19-49, Bates 3-26, Lavarin 3-8.
Receiving: Midd South – Pereless 7-50, Lewandowski 2-10, Joyce 1-46, Rogers 1-13, McCarthy 1-7.
Photos Courtesy Of Scott Greenwald.
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