Despite not having starting running back AJ Opre, the Barnegat offense did not miss a beat in its win over Point Boro Friday night.
The Bengals used a ground game by committee to beat the Panthers 40-0 in a Shore Conference Class B South game. The Bengals rushed for 261 yards.
“We do have some depth, we were able to move some pieces around but you are never better when there is an injury,” Barnegat head coach Rob Davis said. “We built this program around the team concept and a lot of players changed their roles. I’m proud of the results.”
Opre sustained a season-ending knee injury during the third quarter of Barnegat’s 23-7 win over Central last week. Barnegat’s all-time leading rusher with 1,621 yards, Opre had 682 yards and 11 TDs this season.
The Bengals opened the scoring with junior Manny Bowen’s 1-yard touchdown run that made the score 7-0.
Lining up at running back is nothing new for Bowen, who did so when he played at Central last year. For most of the year, Bowen has served as the Bengals’ big-play receiver in the passing game.
“A lot of the change is mental,” Bowen said. “In the huddle my team mates are helping me with where I have to line up.”
Bowen finished the day with 80 yards rushing and three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving.
“It’s going to be a long process to get used to it again,” Bowen said. “We are all sticking together. Whatever the teams needs me I’m going to be there.”
The Bengals increased the score to 14-0 when sophomore running back Paul Wickwire scored on a 50-yard touchdown run.
Senior offensive lineman Zach Andrews said it doesn’t matter who the offensive line is blocking for.
“It doesn’t matter who we are handing it off to,” Andrews said. “No matter who is back there our job doesn’t change, our job is to out there and know our assignments and make blocks.”
Barnegat increased the score to 21-0 when junior quarterback Cinjun Erskine found Kyle Morris with a 12-yard touchdown pass. The Bengal offense then added two more Bowen touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, to make the score 34-0 at the half.
While the Barnegat offensive was scoring 34 points in the first half, the Bengals defense limited the Panther offense to 20 yards of total offense.
“We have a great defensive line coach and he puts us in great spots,” said Andrews. “We don’t stop moving during anything, we take pride in it.”