By Skip Pierce
The host Green Wave football squad failed to get their offense on track until the fourth quarter of their season opener against the Colts Neck Cougars. At the same time Long Branch handed over multiple opportunities to their opponent with a 21- 6 defeat the ultimate result.
The Branchers ran into the Colts Neck punter twice in the first half, a miscue that typically occurs once per season. The first Wave offensive snap resulted in a turnover in their own territory. These events are a pretty good barometer of how the game was going in the first two quarters.
Colts Neck received the opening kick and went “Ωthree and out” with a quarterback sack by Jordan Rogers the featured play on a third and long pass attempt. Wave quarterback Avery Griffin completed a pass on the first play but the receiver fumbled the ball and Colts Neck recovered on the Brancher 49 yard line.
Once again the Long Branch defense held the Cougars to three snaps. However, the ensuing punt struck a Wave player and Colts Neck received yet another golden opportunity, this time recovering the ball at the Long Branch 28 yard line. On the next play Cougar QB Dylan Cottrell lofted a 28-yard pass to Timothy Vangelas who made a leaping catch in the end zone.
Later in the second quarter Hasson Morris of the Wave intercepted Cottrell at the Brancher 45 yard line. However, Long Branch could not capitalize and went to the halftime break at a 6 – 0 deficit.
Colts Neck would score again on their first possession of the second half. This came when running back Victor Scalici broke through the line and raced 63 yards to the uprights. A pass reception by Scalici was good for the two point conversion and a 14 -Ω 0 lead.
In the fourth quarter Colts Neck lit the scoreboard on another big play. This time QB Dylan Cottrell once again found wide receiver Timothy Vangelas and Vangelas sprinted to the end zone to complete the 76-yard play. With the point after the score was 21 – 0 and just over ten minutes remained on the clock.
Long Branch finally got the offense going in the next series with a 64-yard scoring drive. The touchdown came on a 36-yard romp by junior running back Dwight Clark, who broke three tackles along the way.
With 7:25 remaining hope was renewed when Shabazz Shuler recovered the ensuing onside kick at the Colts Neck 40-yard line. However, the effort fizzled with three consecutive incomplete passes by the Wave.
In retrospect the Long Branch defense played well. Colts Neck just could’Ωt move the chains at all and failed to launch a single drive. Basically the defense was guilty of three lapses, all of which resulted in touchdowns. Running back Dwight Clark had some great runs, but the Wave could string the plays together.
The schedule is tough this season. Long Branch faces four “ΩTop Ten” teams going forward, starting with the Ocean Township Spartans next week at home.
More additional photos of this game please visit: www.oneillphotography.printroom.com