Missing two games because of a turf toe injury “was horrible,” said Brick Memorial defensive back Michael Basile, who was reminded of how much fun football is during his return Friday night, and how it can often deliver surprises.
Brick Memorial rallied past Neptune for a 27-16 victory in a Shore Conference nondivisional game thanks in part to a quirky recovery of a kickoff late in the game. It wasn’t an onside kick. But the Neptune return unit, perhaps mistaking the play for a punt, failed to pick up the ball when it was done rolling and became still at the 1-yard line.
Zachary Tighe swooped in and recovered for the Mustangs, who promptly tallied the decisive points on a 1-yard run by Connor Owen.
“I’ve never seen that happen,” said Basile, who plays on the coverage unit. “Normally the other team picks it up, so I went over there, and I was wondering, do I get the ball? Luckily my teammate bailed me out. I was going to pick it up and he just ran in and he scooped it. The coaches were on the sideline yelling, ‘Get the ball, get the ball!’ I was confused because I had never seen that happen.”
For Brick Memorial (3-2), which beat Neptune for a second consecutive season, it was a welcome turn of events after a lackluster start for the Mustangs’ offense, which was shut out and held to 20 yards in the first half.
But reserve quarterback Robert Triano, who took over when Joseph Hans went down with a hamstring strain in the second quarter, gave the team a spark after the 9-0 intermission. Basile did too, especially when he administered punishing hits on quarterback Shakeem Richardson in the final four-and-out possession by Neptune (2-3).
Triano took an option keeper 46 yards for a touchdown that cut Neptune’s lead to 16-13 and threw a 30-yard scoring pass to Karl-Mark Kumm.
Basile, who also lines up at tailback in Memorial’s option offense, contributed a 41-yard run and two pass catches to the team’s four-touchdown second half.
“(Basile) had a huge impact by being back with us, and not just on the field. He’s our emotional leader and he’s the guy our players look to,” Brick Memorial coach Walt Currie said. “So to have the heart and soul of our football program out on the field, that was a big lift.”
Neptune’s deep man on the kickoff miscue was Dyshon Day — the same Dyshon Day who had returned a third-quarter kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
“On the touchdown he made a wiggle, was down the field and gone. On the other play, it is what it is,” Neptune coach Mark Ciccotelli said. “This one hurts.”
Day’s touchdown gave Neptune a 16-7 lead with 7:02 left in the third quarter — on the Brick Memorial kickoff after the first of Owen’s two touchdowns. The Mustangs were quieted by the Fliers’ immediate answer but not for long and made it a one-touchdown game when Triano completed passes of 12 and 15 yards to Basile, setting up Triano’s TD run with 4:28 left to play.