Shore cruises into the semis

Shore cruises into the semis

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Shore cruises into the semis

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WEST LONG BRANCH

It stands to reason that the hard part this week for Shore Regional was not simply preparing for Keansburg and an NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I quarterfinal on Friday evening, but also not looking ahead.

This may be state playoff time, but Thanksgiving morning and a matchup with Point Beach for what amounts to the Class B Central title game are also on the Blue Devils’ collective minds.

First things first, however, as the top-seeded Blue Devils got 170 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries from senior running back Jack Kelly, raced out to a 28-0 lead and sped past No. 8 seed Keansburg, 48-12, on Friday evening to advance.

The Blue Devils (8-1), the 2010 CJ I champion, await the winner of this afternoon’s CJ I quarterfinal between No. 4 seed Asbury Park and No. 5 seed South Hunterdon. That CJ I semifinal will be played on Nov. 30 in West Long Branch. As a point of reference, Shore routed the Blue Bishops, 37-12, back on Sept. 15.

“It was very important (to jump on Keansburg right away),” Kelly said. “This is a big game, we want to continue on and now it’s one more game to the championship. We just have to work at it everyday and keep going forward.”

The teams traded three-and-outs to open the game before Keansburg’s second drive stalled after seven plays. Shore took over at the 50-yard line and it only took four plays to open the scoring thanks to a 30-yard touchdown pass from Matt Muh to Mark Costantino Jr. Jake Monteiro’s extra point made the score 7-0.

Things got out of hand quickly after the initial score. Keansburg (4-5) botched the snap on the ensuing possession to give the Blue Devils the ball at the Titans’ 3. On the next play, Kelly punched it in to make it 14-0.

A 74-yard touchdown run from Kelly and a 12-yard touchdown run from Kevin Masica came on the second and third plays, respectively, after Keansburg went three-and-our on its next two possessions.

“This is the second week in a row we’ve played great football, especially after the hurricane and they’re really starting to roll now,” Shore head coach Mark Costantino said.

For Keansburg, a Keith Malave 1-yard touchdown run and a Dan Markulin 21-yard touchdown reception from Ryan Kurtz were sandwiched around Muh scrambling up the middle for a 8-yard score as Shore led at halftime, 35-12.

The two Keansburg scores, which both came on the heels of deep Kurtz passes, stood as the only hiccups on Friday for Shore aside from Kelly fumbling on the opening drive of the second half after the Blue Devils had marched inside Keansburg’s 20.

Attention will now turn to Thursday and Point Beach. It’s not a playoff game, but there is still plenty on the line. Additionally, these two could meet again in CJ I final so maybe there is a mental edge to gain on Thursday as well.

“This is everything, we’re holding nothing back, this might as well be the state championship,” Costantino said. “They’re a very good team, we’re a good team and we’re just going in there to win it. Every game is tough now. We’ve been trying not to overlook this game, that’s the hard part. We just wanted to get this game over with, survive it and stay healthy.”

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