By Skip Pierce
Dahmiere Willis has done it again, posting his sixth consecutive 200+ yard game. However, in this 40 -28 road victory over the Matawan Huskies, Willis picked up 370 yards, nearly twice the 200-yard gold standard. Could this be a Wave record? Not being a historian I cannot answer that question.
However, having covered Long Branch football since 1978 I would submit that I have personally never witnessed a 370-yard effort.
The contest was a seesaw battle with Matawan taking the lead over Long Branch three times. In fact the Huskies led 28 – 27 at the end of the third quarter, but Willis posted fourth quarter touchdown runs of 23 and 38 yards to secure the win.
ohn Mimes sacked Husky QB George Pearson to end the first Matawan series. Matawan muffed the ensuing punt attempt and the Wave took over at the Husky 18-yard line. Long Branch sputtered here and settled for a 21-yard field goal by Vincent Mota.
Long Branch scored again on their second series with a 67-yard drive that was all Willis. Willis picked up 18 yards on the first snap of the series and finished the trek with a 23-yard TD run yielding a 10 – 0 first quarter lead.
Matawan battled back with a pair of TDs and established a 14 – 10 advantage with 11:23 remaining in the first half. Long Branch countered just seconds later when Willis would score on a textbook blocking demonstration. The entire Wave offensive line slanted right creating lanes as wide receiver Saione Washington delivered a stalk block on the defensive back. Willis took the pitch going right, hurdled a defender downed by lineman Joe Jasio and sprinted 85 yards to regain the lead at 17 – 14.
The Huskies scored another touchdown to take back the lead at 21 – 17. Late in the first half Qu’Ran Standard recovered a Matawan fumble at the Husky 15-yard line that set up the second Mota field goal of the day. Long Branch trotted off at halftime trailing 21 – 20.
On the first play of the second half Willis brought the fans to their feet with a 61-yard run to the Matawan 8-yard line. Willis scored standing up on the next snap to regain the lead once again.
However, Matawan was not done and scored again. The Huskies led 28 – 27 at the end of the third quarter. Willis added a pair of fourth quarter touchdown runs but 5:03 remained on the clock and Long Branch was still vulnerable.
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Sophomore defensive back Austin Cannon was sent in with just over four minutes remaining for his first defensive action of the evening, replacing a lineman to create a “3 -4 package”. Cannon made good on his debut play intercepting Husky QB Pearson to put the game on ice.
Dahmiere Willis continues to lead the state in rushing yardage through week seven per highschoolsports.nj.com. The website lists Lamont Harris (St. Augustine) and Willie Barr (Irvington) as number two and three among the state rushing leaders.