Manasquan football defeats St. John Vianney

Manasquan football defeats St. John Vianney

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Manasquan football defeats St. John Vianney

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MANASQUAN

James McAlary has gone from scoring goals to scoring touchdowns for Manasquan but says it wasn’t that hard to say goodbye to soccer for his junior year.

“Backyard football. That was about it,” McAlary said of his football experience prior to this season. “Going from five people watching at a soccer game to maybe a hundred or a couple of hundred, it’s definitely different but it’s a lot more exciting. It’s fun.”

McAlary’s two touchdowns and his stellar defensive corner play helped Manasquan to a 21-14 victory over St. John Vianney in a Shore Conference Class A Central game Saturday.

McAlary rushed for 94 yards and he broke up a fourth-down pass in the final minute to turn away St. John Vianney at the Manasquan 18. But it was also a game that underscored McAlary’s learning curve. He fumbled earlier in the quarter, recovered by St. John Vianney linebacker Chris Coppola, and the Lancers made it a one-touchdown contest after Billy DeMato threw a 13-yard scoring pass to Julanee Prince.

Manasquan coach Jay Price chose to sit out McAlary on offense in the final minutes, opting to put the ball in senior fullback Jack Bianco’s hands as the Warriors (3-1, 2-1) chewed up clock, but McAlary continued to carry heavy responsibility on defense.

A year ago, while McAlary was still on the soccer pitches, Manasquan’s secondary yielded six touchdown passes to DeMato and blew a 29-point lead. This time DeMato was held to 15 of 36 passing this time for 239 yards and wildcat quarterback Anthony Brown also threw a 22-yard pass.

“He rose to the challenge. He’s a fierce competitor and he just wants to be good,” Price said of McAlary. “He’s a kid who played soccer his whole life and never played football until he came out and played spring ball with us. We left the choice of sport up to him and he actually went to the first soccer preseason practice, and then he showed up at our afternoon practice and said, ‘I want to play football.’ “

McAlary’s 27-yard run after a block by tight end Tanner Cowley with 3:24 left in the third quarter gave Manasquan the decisive points and a 21-7 lead.

He also scored on a 45-yard draw with 10 seconds left in the second quarter. That put St. John Vianney in a 14-0 hole at the break, something that hiked the degree of difficulty for the Lancers (1-3, 0-3), according to coach Andy Carlstrom.

“We were at Colts Neck-Middletown North (Friday night) and Colts Neck scored on a draw right before the half and I said, ‘How do you let that happen?’ And then, bam, it happens to us on a draw last play of the half,” Carlstrom said. “I feel like we made mistakes and gave them the game.”

Manasquan’s first touchdown was set up by a rally-killing interception by linebacker John Morris. DeMato had connected with Braccia on a 52-yard pass, giving the Lancers a shot from the red zone. Manasquan converted on a lengthy drive that featured a 36-yard Tucker Caccavale pass to Joe Fittin, and Joe Murphy put up the game’s first points on a one-yard run. Murphy rushed for 79 yards but exited in the fourth quarter with an injury to his right heel.

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