Mateo Andrews, #88, had five catches for the Spartans for 158 yards and three touchdowns.
By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
A total of 82 points were scored and nearly 1,000 total yards of offense, and one player, Tyler Douglas of Ocean Township was responsible for half of those yards. He led the Spartans in a 49-33 victory over Brick Memorial on Friday night.
Douglas is the 6’2” senior quarterback at Ocean Township. He completed 13 of 19 passes for a school record of 304 yards. He also threw four touchdown passes. But, he was not done. On the ground, he ran the ball 16 times and finished with 185 rushing yards and three touchdowns. On defense, he even had an interception. It was just a record-breaking day for the senior.
Don Klein, who is in his 16th season as head coach of the Spartans, is getting a reputation as a quarterback coach in the Shore Conference. Klein was a quarterback when he played at Shore Regional, and over his tenure at Ocean he has help forge Kenny Pickett, the first college quarterback picked in the National Football League draft this year. Pickett is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A lot of people are comparing Douglas to Pickett. One thing is obvious, Douglas is 6’2” and nearly 200 pounds. His arm strength and field vision is terrific. His leg strength and speed make him a dangerous runner. Douglas has committed to play football at Temple, the same school Pickett first looked at before he selected Pitt.
“One of the things I like about Tyler is he has so much ability and he has such a high ceiling,” said Klein. According to the coach, Douglas has greatly improved his mechanics, accuracy and anticipation. “Those things really lend themselves to playing the quarterback position at a really high level.”
Brick Memorial had a top notch quarterback on their team as well. Junior Connor Dietz completed 18 of 35 passes for 290 yards. He also had 50 rushing yards. It was a night of big plays for both teams.
The game started with Douglas hitting senior Shane Garrett on a 53-yard screen. A Brick Memorial defender tackled Garrett at the seven-yard line. Very next play, Douglas runs it in for his first touchdown of the game. Michael Sorrentino made the first of his game-high five extra points.
In the second quarter, Douglas hit Garrett again, this time it resulted in a 15-yard touchdown. And just like that the Spartans were up 14-0 on Brick Memorial.
However, the ensuing kickoff landed in the hands of Kevin Andrews of Brick Memorial. He ran 98 yards untouched for the first touchdown of the game for the Mustangs. Dietz kicked the extra point and cut the Spartan lead to 14-7.
Douglas took over for Ocean on their next offensive series and connected on a 33-yard pass to Mateo Andrews for the touchdown. Andrews is a senior transfer from Neptune, who has added speed and great hands to the offensive unit.
Dietz struck right back on their next offensive series. He hit a wide open Elijah Benjamin for a 75-yard touchdown.
With 58 seconds left in the first half, Douglas had a five-yard touchdown run. The Spartans took a 28-14 lead into the halftime break.
“There are definitely areas we need to improve upon and we will work hard on those things this week,” said Klein.
The third quarter had two big plays that resulted in touchdowns. The first was a 74-yard pass by Dietz to Kevin Andrews. The extra point kick failed, however, it was the second time the defense was burned on a deep ball for the Spartans.
Douglas hit Mateo on a 33-yard touchdown pass and went up 35-20. Brick Memorial had another huge kickoff return going all the way to the Spartan five-yard line. On their next play, the Mustangs fumbled and Steven Falco of Ocean recovered with 3:54 left in the quarter.
In the fourth and final quarter, Brick Memorial had a second and 10 at the Ocean 13 with 5:51 to play. A few plays later, Dietz ran in from five yards out. The extra point failed and Ocean was up 35-27 with 4:56 remaining in the game.
Douglas had one last big play in him. He connected with Mateo on a 65-yard touchdown. The extra point was good giving the Spartans a 42-27 lead with just over four minutes. The last Ocean touchdown came on a short run by Caleb Thompson giving the Spartans a 49-27 lead.
Brick Memorial had one last drive in their tank with Dietz scoring on a short run. However, it was not enough as the Spartans improved to 3-0 on the season with a 49-33 win.
On the ground Thompson had seven carries for 70 yards, and CJ Flannigan had seven touches for 44 yards. Receiving, Garrett had four catches for 110 yards, Andrews had five catches for 158 yards.
“I was very happy with the way we came out and executed. Our team was extremely focused and understood the magnitude of this early season game,” said Klein. Some football pundits had Brick Memorial winning the division. “Our players showed up ready to compete and we did an outstanding job of getting the ball into different player’s hands and generating big plays.”
In the Freedom Division of the Shore Conference, Ocean is undefeated at 3-0. They have scored 120 points in three games and only allowed 60. Brick Township is in second position at 2-1, Brick Memorial in third at 1-2, Red Bank Regional and Toms River South are also 1-2. In last place is winless Neptune.
The undefeated teams after this week’s games in the Shore Conference are, Red Bank Catholic, Donovan Catholic, Toms River North, Marlboro, Point Pleasant Boro, Raritan and the Spartans.