WEST LONG BRANCH
Shore had just seen its 15-point lead cut to 3 midway through the third quarter after Keansburg put together a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that ate 6:52 of clock. The Blue Devils were in need of a big play or drive by their own offense to get some rest.
On the ensuing kickoff, Shore got the big play it desperately needed. Mark Costantino returned the kick 75 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 10 and the Blue Devils never looked back on Friday, as they picked up a 35-18 Shore Class B Central victory.
“We knew we had to do something to help out our defense,” Costantino said. “I followed the wedge up the middle and a hole just opened up to the right and I followed the blockers.”
The game was all Blue Devils (6-1, 3-0) early. After receiving the opening kickoff, Shore marched down the field and got on the board less than three minutes into the game when Kevin Masica took a handoff from Matthew Muh off the right side and scored from 3 yards.
Later in the first quarter, Shore’s Brian Miller recovered a fumble at the Keansburg 15. Three plays later, Miller was rewarded with a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.
Keansburg (4-4, 1-3) answered after recovering a Shore fumble early in the second quarter. Quarterback Ryan Kurtz engineered an 11-play, 60-yard drive that culminated with a 2-yard scoring run by Keith Malave to make it 14-6.
The Blue Devils made it 21-6 four plays later. Muh handed off to Costantino, who then handed it to Masica, who cut outside and down the sideline for a 31-yard touchdown.
“The play was Jet Reverse and it was blocked great by our line,” Masica said. “The running lane was wide open and I just hit it.”
The Titans took over at their own 17 with 1:27 remaining in the half. Kurtz and the offense drove the 20 with 4 seconds left. Kurtz then threw an apparent touchdown to Dan Markulin, but it was called back for offensive pass interference.
On the next play, the Shore defense was called for a personal foul to give Keansburg another shot. This time Kurtz connected with Markulin on a post pattern for a 21-yard score to make it 21-12 at halftime.
The Titans used that momentum to put together the long drive to start the third and scored on a 2-yard keeper by Kurtz. That set up the big kick return by Costantino.
“Keansburg played great tonight and gave us all we could handle,” said Shore coach Mark Costantino. “We moved the ball well all game, but made some mistakes. We got the play when we needed it and picked up a big win.”
Shore got an 8-yard touchdown run by Jack Kelly in the fourth as the Blue Devils escaped with the win despite 196 yards rushing by Kurtz.