Long Branch turns to ground game to beat Pinelands

Long Branch turns to ground game to beat Pinelands

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Long Branch turns to ground game to beat Pinelands

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LITTLE EGG HARBOR

Friday night was one of those nights running backs didn’t want to get tackled.

“The field was muddy, wet and nasty,” said Long Branch senior running back Deon Williams, who ran through lots of water en route to a 138-yard, 3-touchdown effort during the Green Wave’s 35-0 bruising of Pinelands in a Shore Conference nondivisional matchup in rainy, windy conditions. “I had to jump over a lot of puddles tonight.”

Long Branch (4-1) took control of the game early. After a low snap was fumbled and recovered by Matt MacPhee on the Pinelands 27-yard line, the Green Wave needed just two plays to get on the scoreboard as Williams ran the ball into the end zone from 27 yards away and Vincent Mota booted the extra point to make it 7-0 with 9:05 left in the first quarter.

On Long Branch’s next play from scrimmage at its own 40, Williams took the ball to the outside, got into the secondary and simply outraced several Wildcat defenders for his second TD. Mota’s second point-after made it 14-0 with 6:02 to go in the first.

After another Pinelands punt, which put the Green Wave on their own 45, Williams found the end zone again four plays later, this time from 28 yards with 2:02 left in the quarter. Mota, who went 5-for-5 on PATs, made it 21-0.

Long Branch all but sealed the victory on its next possession. Starting at their 27, the Green Wave reached the end zone in eight plays, culminated by a 14-yard Shabazz Shuler touchdown pass to senior Antoine Felder and making it 28-0 with 5:01 to go in the first half.

The third quarter zipped by quickly, but three plays into the fourth the Green Wave finished off the Wildcats as junior running back Dahmiere Willis, who finished with 79 yards rushing, dashed to the outside and outran the Pinelands defense down the left sideline for a 39-yard score. Mota capped the scoring with the PAT and 10:16 left.

On their last possession, Pinelands (1-4) finally managed to get a first down but the 8-play drive ended on downs with 2:06 to go. Long Branch held the Wildcats to just 3 yards rushing. The Green Wave finished with 228 on the ground.

“Our offensive line is getting better,” Williams said. “But our defense has been pretty good, only letting up one touchdown so far. Our defense is our biggest strength. We have a great secondary and the defensive line has been really good.”

Williams said the Green Wave’s contest with Ocean, which has a bye next week, in two weeks is an important one.

“Our passing game has to improve a little bit and we have to do better with penalties,” he said. “But all we can do is get better. We don’t want to go backward now. We just have to keep going forward.”

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