Senior captain Pat Moran made a passing comment to head coach Rob Davis just prior to practice during the week, suggesting last week’s 21-0 loss to Holmdel was “good” for Barnegat.
“It was good for us,” Moran said after the Bengals cruised to a 27-0 victory over Manchester in a Shore Conference Class B South game Friday. “We know how we played last week, and we wanted to come out and play well.”
Barnegat dominated every facet of the game, racking up 317 yards of total offense while limiting the Hawks to 73, including just 18 on the ground.
“We knew we had to take this one, especially because it was a division game,” said Moran, who opened the scoring when he snatched a Devin Tomei pass deflected by teammate Ed Santiago and raced 41 yards to the end zone with 9:04 to go in the first quarter. “We came out and played like we had something to prove.”
After shutting down a Manchester drive at the Bengals’ 26-yard line, Barnegat effectively used its running game throughout the rest of the contest. The Bengals started with their first possession of the first half when junior A.J. Opre carried the ball seven times for 54 yards before bulldozing into the end zone from 4 yards with 10:03 to go in the half. Moran’s point-after kick made it 13-0, and that’s the way it stayed heading into the second half.
“After that pick, it set the momentum and we just started marching down the field,” said Opre, who finished with 28 carries for 220 yards and a pair of TDs. “Our linemen kept pounding and pounding and made me holes.”
The second half was not much different as the Bengals (1-1, 1-0) marched to the Manchester 12 on just six plays before sophomore quarterback Ricky Gerena was intercepted by Shaquille Benjamin at the 1-yard line.
But on the Bengals’ next possession, they put the ball into the capable hands of Opre, who carried the ball seven straight times and amassed 71 yards before finishing with a 1-yard burst into the end zone with 1:09 left in the third. Moran’s second PAT made it 20-0.
Totaling only six possessions during the game, Barnegat made good use of its fifth possession. The Bengals again turned to Opre, who ran the ball for 30 more yards on five straight carries before Santiago took a handoff and busted his way into the end zone, carrying several Hawks with him, for a 20-yard TD run. Moran finished off the scoring with his third PAT with 6:07 to go.
Manchester (0-2, 0-1) managed just one first down and had minus-11 yards rushing in the second half.