Griffin, ground game lead Green Wave

Griffin, ground game lead Green Wave

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Griffin, ground game lead Green Wave

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WALL

A veteran Long Branch football team, mindful that its first two passes were intercepted by Neptune last week, opened up its Class B North matchup at Wall by rushing the ball 19 consecutive times.

But the Green Wave closed the first half with a 45-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Avry Griffin (5 of 7, 109 yards) to wide receiver Curtis Gunter as the sounding horn declared the halftime intermission.

As Griffin broke the huddle, assistant coach Brev Creech urged Griffin to “Take a shot Avry, take a shot at it.” The senior signal caller took the snap from center, rolled left and, right before he crossed the line of scrimmage, leaped up and launched a long ball to Gunter — who had gotten behind the Crimson Knight defense.

The touchdown pass lifted Long Branch to a 19-0 halftime lead and put the nail in Wall’s coffin. The Green Wave led 38-0 in the final minute before winning, 38-7.

“This was a hugh bounce-back game for us,” Long Branch coach Dan George said. “Wall is a physical team. We were concerned. We wanted to start off doing what we do best . . . which is run the football.”

Indeed. Despite the absence of expected rushing leader Dwight Clark, Long Branch has the athletes to run the ball. Senior fullback Joscil Jackson (13 carries, 85 yards) looked like a bowling ball bouncing off would-be tacklers.

Jackson finished off an 11-play, 82-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run up the middle. The deceptively strong Jackson struck again with a 7-yard touchdown run after Long Branch drove 81 yards to open the second half.

“He’s a throwback, he runs so hard, so physical,” George said. “And (Deon) Williams (15-92) is almost as physical.”

That physicality would produce 316 yards rushing, 22 first downs and touchdown drives of 82, 81, 70 and 94 yards.

Williams caught a 24-yard pass from Griffin and ran the final 10 yards for a second-quarter touchdown.

Long Branch is now 3-1 overall and 1-1 in Class B North, and has won eight of its last nine games since last season.

“We are a senior group, we are expecting to win games, but on the road, our first night game, this is a good victory,” George said.

Wall (1-3, 1-2) avoided the shutout on a 55-yard run by quarterback Jack Gifford with 20 seconds remaining to play. Gifford got the defense to bite on a fake inside handoff and scooted around the left side for the score.

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