Despite practicing just three times due to superstorm Sandy, Neptune’s explosive offense didn’t miss a beat in its return to action on Saturday.
With quarterback Ajee Patterson at the helm, Neptune struck for 33 first-half points and cruised to a 54-17 Class B North win over Wall and clinched at least a tie for the divisional championship.
Patterson completed 16 of 19 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for 44 yards and a touchdown.
“It just felt good to get back on the football field,” Patterson said. “I missed playing the game and it felt great to get the ‘W’ . . . I just had to do my reads. Coach told me all week that if I do that, I’ll come out here and have a good game.”
“For a couple hours we were able to get back some normalcy,” Neptune coach Mark Ciccotelli said. “People are displaced and it’s a tough time. People are without power and some people are all over the place. But they stuck together today. I’m really proud of them.”
Senior wideout Keith Kirkwood was Patterson’s favorite target early on as the duo connected for long touchdowns on Neptune’s first three possessions. The 6-foot-4 Kirkwood snagged a pass over the top and took it 80 yards for a score on Neptune’s first drive and then hauled in touchdown catches of 71 and 60 yards on the following two possessions. Kirkwood finished with five receptions for 233 yards.
“Coach tells us adversity reveals character, and we proved that today,” said Kirkwood, a first-year football player. “It was a great game. I try to take it game by game. I learn a lot of technique from (senior receiver) Geoff (Fairbanks), and I feel like I’m getting better as every game goes by.”
Fairbanks caught four passes for 53 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown that put Neptune up 33-10 in the second quarter.
“After missing so much practice time, it was really important that we didn’t come out sloppy,” Fairbanks said. “A lot of people don’t have power, some peoples’ houses are destroyed, but having everyone come back and watching something that doesn’t have to do with the hurricane was nice for the community.”