It’s safe to say Monsignor Donovan controls its own destiny with regard to a Shore Conference Class B South division title.
The Griffins used the big play in the second half against Point Pleasant Boro Friday night, scoring 22 points along the way, and ended up taking sole possession of first place in the division with a 28-14 victory.
“This is our biggest win in years,” said senior running back/kicker Grant Klimek, who led the way for Donovan with a pair of field goals, 101 yards rushing and an interception that led to a touchdown. “We’re going after a division title and this was big. We had a lot of second efforts in this game that ended up being really big plays for us.”
Klimek put the Griffins (3-1, 3-0) up 6-0 after he kicked 21- and 20-yard field goals on back-to-back possessions bridging the first and second quarters, the second with 10:01 to go in the first half.
However, the Panthers (3-2, 2-1) grabbed their only lead when they used their first possession of the second quarter and 65 yards on eight plays, culminating with senior quarterback Chris Oliphant’s 15-yard touchdown run and senior kicker Brett Blank’s first point-after kick with 6:44 left to make it a 7-6 game at halftime.
But after forcing Point Boro to a three-and-out to start the third quarter, the Griffins regained the lead for good and took over the contest from there. Donovan’s second-half onslaught started when junior quarterback Vincent Grasso fired a pass to junior wide receiver Dante Pagano that went for a 50-yard touchdown, making it 12-7 with 6:45 left in the third.
“We’re primarily a running team,” Grasso said. “But we planned that play and it surprised them. We worked on that play during our bye week.”
Two possessions later, the Griffins got a really big play from senior running back Kevin Ortiz, who took a handoff on second-and-16 from Donovan’s 16-yard line, broke through the line and into the secondary, then raced down the right sideline into the end zone for an 84-yard score with 8:45 left. He then busted into the end zone for a two-point conversion, making it 20-7.
“The big plays were very important for us,” Ortiz said. “On that run, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates blocking. I had the wide receivers blocking upfield, and Klimek got a great block on somebody that freed me up to go down the sideline.”
With Point Boro facing third-and-14 on its next possession, Klimek made a nice over-the-shoulder interception of an Oliphant pass along the right sideline, giving Donovan the ball on Boro’s 46 with 7:08 to go. three plays later, on third-and-16, Grasso kept the ball, managed to shake free of two Panthers in the secondary, then zipped down the right sideline for a 60-yard TD run. He then passed to Klimek for the two-point conversion to put the game out of reach, 28-7, with 5:02 left.
The Panthers rebounded on their next possession, as Oliphant completed two passes for 45 yards and ran the ball twice more, including the final 9 yards into the end zone. Blank’s second PAT made it 28-14 with 3:24 to go.
At 3-0 with wins over Boro and Barnegat, the Griffins need three more victories to ensure at least a tie for the division crown. They get to start that possible run against winless Pinelands next weekend.
“To win the division, we just have to keep working hard,” Klimek said. “We can’t look at any of our opponents as easy or hard. We have to just go out there and play football.”