By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr
November 14, 2020
Saturday afternoon the Falcons of Monmouth Regional hosted the Wildcats of Pinelands High School in an NJSIAA and Shore Conference Pod postseason football game. The concept of the Pod games was to take evenly matched programs and let them compete.
Pinelands entered Tinton Falls with a 1-4 record, while the host Falcons were 1-5 overall. It was not a pretty game as Monmouth Regional fumbled the ball on their first possession and the Wildcats recovered and a few plays later they took a 6-0 lead on Monmouth Regional.
During the first quarter, the Falcons were shaky, as they had a few high snaps from center and problems holding onto the football. Defensively they also struggled with missed and poor tackling. The quarter ended with Pinelands holding the 6-0 led.
It was in the second quarter that things started to turn in favor of the Flacons. Yassin Moore, senior quarterback, ran 43 yards for the first Monmouth Regional score of the game. However, officials called holding on Monmouth Regional putting the ball on the Wildcats 23-yard line. Next play, Moore ran 23 yards for the touchdown. He also ran in the two-point conversion giving his team an 8-6 lead with 1:10 left in the first half.
In the third quarter with 1:48 left to play, Pinelands kicked a 17-yard field goal putting them up 9-8.
Going into the final quarter Pinelands held that 9-8 advantage, but that changed quickly as senior Keontae Wiggins bolted 40 yards for the touchdown. Moore ran the ball in on the two-point conversion giving Monmouth Regional a 16-9 lead with 10:05 left to play.
With just over four minutes left, Pinelands marched down field and scored on a 23-yard pass play. They were now down 16-15 and went for the extra point to even the score. However, Frankie Harris-Thomas, junior, blasted through the Wildcats line and blocked the kick.
Monmouth Regional was able to run out the clock and improve to 2-5 on the pandemic season. Moore had 20 carries for 117 yards, scored one touchdown and both two-point conversions. He did not attempt a single pass during the game. On defense, he also made eight tackles.
Wiggins had 16 carries gaining 91 yards and scoring one touchdown. Those 91 yards put him over a 1,000 for the season. Defensively he made seven tackles.
Also having a great defensive game was sophomore Eric Crissley, who had eight tackles and two sacks. Matt Fleschner, who stands 6’7” and weighs 300 pounds, also had eight tackles and two sacks. He was making one-handed tackles as the runners went past him, reaching out and pulling them to the ground.
Monmouth Regional also changed their kicking game. Most teams use a kicking-tee, but the Falcons placed the ball on the turf and that is how juniior Brian Yadlon kicked off. He drilled one kick into a Pinelands player that bounced off and went right back to Yadlon who recovered the ball.
“It was a great win. We had players make big plays in all three phases. I’m extremely proud of how our players stayed the course and finished the game strong,” said head coach Dan Wendel.
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