By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
November 6, 2021
It was a dominating performance for the Green Wave of Long Branch on Saturday afternoon. The football team, seeded third in the bracket, hosted Freehold Boro, sixth seed, in the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 4 quarterfinals.
Long Branch played their best game of 2021 beating Freehold Boro 50-12. The Wave not only controlled the offense, defense and special teams, they also controlled their emotions. They were focused, driven and disciplined. A few times this season they let their emotions take over and were hit with some penalties.
The first touchdown came in the first quarter. Christian Rodriguez, senior quarterback, threw a perfect 25-yard pass to Jayden Farmer. The extra point by Wesley Garcia, a former soccer play, was perfect. Long Branch had a 7-0 lead going into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, junior running back Sekou Kamau powered his way for a 25-yard touchdown run. Rodriguez than ran in for the two-point conversion putting Long Branch up 15-0.
Rodriguez, who has such a strong arm, fired a 60-yard pass to Michael Hall, sophomore, for the last touchdown of the first half. Garcia was perfect on the kick and the Green Wave took a 22-0 lead into the break.
Third quarter started with Freehold Boro getting a 33-yard touchdown run. They attempted a two-point conversion, which failed.
A few series later, the Wave defense had Freehold Boro deep in their own end of the field. The Colonials were forced to punt, but it was blocked by Long Branch. Senior Joshua Vann recovered the ball for a Long Branch touchdown. Garcia kicked the extra point and they were now up 29-6.
Still in the third quarter, Rodrigues fired a perfect pass to Ka’Jion Thorne, junior, who made a great over-the-shoulder catch and scored. Extra point by Garcia was good and now Long Branch was up 36-6.
Freehold Boro had one last scoring drive. It was a 28-yard pass play. They attempted a two-point conversion again, and it failed.
Just before the third quarter ended, LB sophomore Zyheme Brown had a huge 58-yard touchdown run. Garcia was good on the kick and the Wave took a 43-12 lead into the final quarter. NJSIAA rules say when a team has a 33-point advantage over an opponent the game clock will run.
In a very fast four quarter, and possibly the last football game played at the high school this season, Brown added another score on a 10-yard run. For the sixth time that afternoon Garcia was good on the extra point.
Long Branch had a 231-63 passing yard advantage over Freehold Boro. On the ground, the Wave outrushed the Colonials 142-94. Freehold Boro had five penalties for 70 yards while Long Branch 6 yellow flags for 55 yards.
Long Branch head coach Dan George, who is retiring from coaching after 30 seasons, will take the Wave to play second seed Ocean City on November 12, for a 6:00 p.m. kickoff in the semifinals. The other end of the bracket has top seed Millville playing fourth seed Pennsauken.
With the victory, Long Branch is 7-1 overall. Their only loss, 43-6, was to Rumson-Fair Haven on October 29. The Wave took the Freedom Divisional title beating St. John Vianney, Freehold Boro, Toms River South, and Toms River East.
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