As the clock ticked down in Barnegat’s 42-3 win over Jackson Liberty Friday night, Bengals players could not help but celebrate.
For the first time in the varsity program’s eight-year history, Barnegat has started the season 4-0. The closest the school has come was 3-0 in 2010, said Barnegat head coach Rob Davis.
“Of course everyone has those ultimate goals, but we wanted to be at that cut-off point 4-0,” Davis said. “It was big to get over that edge and get to 4-0. We want to get to the next level. We are not a young program anymore.”
The Barnegat offense opened the scoring on their opening possession when junior quarterback Cinjun Erskine found Ricky Gerena with an 18-yard touchdown pass to give the Bengals a 7-0.
“In the last three weeks we have not had to throw the ball,” Davis said. “We came into the game today with a purpose to throw the football.”
Barnegat increased its lead to 14-0 when Erskine, who finished the day with 254 yards passing and four touchdowns, found Manny Bowen on a 76-yard touchdown pass.
“He is a dynamic playmaker on both sides of the ball,” Davis said of Bowen. “He is very explosive and goes 100 percent on both offense and defense to the point that he tires himself out. We have a lot of athletes around him that only add to the threat.”
Bowen finished the day with 144 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
“I like to say that our receivers are utilities in our offense,” Bowen said. “We have a powerful run game and when the coaches need to throw the football, we are there.”
Barnegat took a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter when Erskine again hooked up with Bowen, this time with a 7-yard touchdown pass.
“We know what we have and we have a chance to do something big,” Bowen said. “If we continue to do big things we are going to be remembered.”
The Bengals closed out their first-half scoring when AJ Opre scored on a 1-yard touchdown run for a 28-0 lead. Jackson Liberty got on the scoreboard when Braden Yorke hit a 32-yard field to make it 28-3 at the half.
Opre then scored on a 3-yard run in the middle of the third quarter to give the Bengals a 35-3 lead. The Barnegat offense closed out the scoring when Erskine found Vinny DiGirolamo with a 26-yard touchdown pass to make the score 42-3.
Despite being 4-0 heading into the bye week, Barnegat knows that there is still work to do.
“When we work all summer we talked about being 4-0,” Bengals senior linebacker Greg Moran said. “Being 4-0 is a great feeling, but we are going to continue to strive. We have bigger goals than that.”