— A 2-0 start does not a winning season make, but it sure is a giant step in the right direction for a Jackson Liberty team in search of the first winning record in the school’s six-year history.
Jackson Liberty’s defense also pitched its first shutout over a Shore Conference team and the strong effort proved the difference in the Lions’ 7-0 Class B South victory over host Central Regional Friday night.
“We had plenty of opportunities in the first half,” Jackson Liberty coach Tim Osborn said. “We just could not get the ball into the end zone. Yes, 2-0 feels good, but we have to play better on offense if we want to keep going.”
Three Central first-half turnovers provided Jackson Liberty with excellent field position. The Lions punted on their first possession, but the Golden Eagles (1-1) fumbled the 30-yard kick and the Lions recovered at the Central 11-yard line.
On second down, Lions quarterback Bob Davies (5-of-12 for 56 yards) hit senior Mike Casado in the left flat, and the senior extended his body, just lunging into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown after 3:53 of action in the first quarter.
Jackson Liberty had excellent field position the entire first half, taking over the ball three times inside the Central 30, but the Lions would not score again.
Each team had 71 first-half yards and each team blocked a punt. The difference was the turnovers.
Central gained some momentum in the second half. Two passes from quarterback Marquis Drumright (4-of-17) to Vinny Davis totaled 46 yards and sparked a drive which moved from the Eagles 36 to the Jackson Liberty 2-yard line.
On first and goal from the 2, Central fumbled for its fourth turnover as the Lions’ Ryan Cullen recovered the fumble to preserve the shutout. Three plays later, Liberty punter Mike Ostrowski boomed a 50-yard punt, forcing Central back into its own territory at the 38.
Central’s Javon Hardy ran for 113 yards on just nine carries. Even with Jackson Liberty defensive back Matt Castanova shutting down the middle of the field, the Eagles insisted on throwing deep ball after deep ball despite not completing any.
Central took over at the Jackson 26 yard line early in the fourth quarter after an interception and reached the 11 yard line on a Hardy first down run. But the junior hurt his ankle on the play and did not run the ball on the four ensuing downs.
“Our middle linebacker Chris Cruz played a heck of a game,” Osborn said.
Overall, Central outgained Jackson Liberty 211-117. Lions running back Bruce Almodovar iced the victory by running on four consecutive plays to run out the clock at the end of the game.