NJSIAA SOUTH GROUP III: Manasquan falls to defending champions

NJSIAA SOUTH GROUP III: Manasquan falls to defending champions

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NJSIAA SOUTH GROUP III: Manasquan falls to defending champions

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MANASQUAN

Delsea paid a visit to Vic Kubu Warrior Field on Saturday and showed why it’s still the team to beat in the NJSIAA South Group III playoffs.

Quarterback Rob Rolle and running back Isaiah Spencer scored two touchdowns apiece while the Crusaders’ defense was suffocating throughout as No. 4 seed Delsea defeated top-seeded Manasquan 27-10 in the SJ III semifinals.

Delsea (9-2), the defending sectional champion, will play No. 3 Barnegat in the South Group III final at Rowan University. The game is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 7 at 4 p.m.

Manasquan (7-3) will finish its season against traditional rival Wall on Thanksgiving Day in a rematch of this year’s SJ III quarterfinal, won by the Warriors 29-7.

If Saturday’s game was any indication, Delsea will be tough to beat in the final. The Crusaders outgained Manasquan 298-88, with the Warriors getting most of their yards on a late fourth-quarter touchdown drive against Delsea’s backups. The Warriors were held to 47 yards rushing, and passing was just as difficult with Delsea making three interceptions.

On offense, Spencer finished with 121 yards on 15 carries and Rob Hooks ran for 94 yards on 21 attempts for the Crusaders.

“They were the total package,” Manasquan coach Jay Price said of Delsea. “It was hard to stay on the field, but I was proud of the way the kids played. They played as hard as they could as long as they could, but when you’re facing that you’re trying to come up with answers.”

There were no answers for Manasquan, not even in the first quarter when Warriors senior defensive lineman Matt Forst scooped up a Crusaders fumble and ran 35 yards to the Delsea 21. After having first-and-goal at the 9, the Warriors settled for a 23-yard field goal by Raul Perez to take a 3-0 lead with 3:22 left in the first quarter.

“The defense played outstanding, especially early in the game when we didn’t get things rolling on offense,” said Delsea coach Sal Marchese, whose team has five shutouts this season. “That was big to hold them to that field goal. That was a lot of momentum for us.”

On the series, Delsea received a helmet-to-helmet penalty on a hit to Manasquan quarterback Tucker Caccavale, who was pressured all game by the Crusaders.

“I don’t know if that (play) changed our mentality (in our passing game) as much as just their closing speed,” Price said. “That took your breath away. We knew we couldn’t run on the outside. They were better than we thought they were up front.”

Delsea then took over the game with a 13-play, 83-yard drive aided by a Manasquan 15-yard facemask penalty. Hooks rushed seven times for 36 yards and Rolle finished with a 1-yard touchdown sneak to give the Crusaders a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Delsea upped its lead to 13-3 on a 46-yard drive as Hooks ran four times for 29 yards and Rolle went the final 8 yards for a touchdown with 2:24 left before halftime.

“We had to grind it out each and every play,” Rolle said. “I like these kind of games. I’ll take a 10-play, 80-yard drive over a one-play home run any time.”

In the third quarter, Manasquan got as far as the Delsea 40 before getting pushed back to the 50 and was forced to punt. The Crusaders later followed an interception by safety Ron Russell with a 40-yard drive as Spencer ran for a 4-yard touchdown and a 20-3 lead with 1:01 left in the third.

Spencer added a dazzling 69-yard touchdown run with 5:05 left in the fourth to make it 27-3.

Manasquan senior running back Joe Murphy ran 32 yards for a touchdown on a draw with 33 seconds left to close the scoring.

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