Toms River Regional Schools District Athletic Director Joe Arminio came up to Toms River South quarterback Tymere Berry moments after the Indians had defeated Southern, 27-20, in a Shore Conference Class A South game on Friday night, put his arms around him and said the following:
“Way to be great,” Arminio said.
Berry, an electrifying 6-foot, 175-pound junior, was a playmaker in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Detwiler Stadium. His 30-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter gave Toms River South a 27-13 lead. He then clinched the game with a 12-yard run on a fourth-and-2 play with 1:11 remaining.
“He’s lights out,” Toms River South coach Ron Signorino Jr. said. “He commands the offense. He’s competing this year. Last year, he was just kind of the quarterback. Now, he’s taken ownership of the offense.”
Berry, who became the starting quarterback in the third game of the 2012 season, has become a better decision-maker, too. That was in evidence on the fourth-and-2 play from the Southern 14.
Toms River South had called a timeout and decided to go for the first down, rather than try a 31-yard field goal because its regular kicker, Russell Messler, is sidelined for three weeks with a slight tear of the medial collateral ligament.
Indians offensive coordinator Matt Martin called for a play-action pop pass over the middle. That play had worked for 19 yards in the first half.
“I took a glance at it (the pop pass) and I didn’t see it,” said Berry, who ran for 115 yards and threw for 103. “I saw green (turf) and I went for it.”
Berry turned the right corner, outran the pursuit and stepped out of bounds at the Rams 2. The Indians then ran out the clock.
“We find ourselves saying, ‘Ty, be great or Ty make a play’. We absolutely rely on that,” Signorino Jr. said. “He’s phenomenal.”
Southern (1-1, 0-1) had cut a 20-0 halftime deficit to 20-13 in the third quarter, when on a first-and-10 from the Southern 30, Berry kept the ball, outraced the pursuit and then dove over the goal line with the ball for the touchdown.
“I was supposed to read Gesicki (Southern outside linebacker/receiver Mike Gesicki, who played the last quarter and a half with a sprained ankle),” Berry said. “They wanted me to get up field and make him make a choice. I saw he went out so I cut upfield and did what I was supposed to.”
Southern pulled within 27-20 on a 1-yard run by Rob Yaiser with 11:29 remaining. The Rams had one more possession after that. A Gesicki 8-yard run on a fake punt on fourth-and-6 in which he hurdled a defender kept the drive alive. Southern eventually reached the Indians 49, where a fourth-and-4 pass was incomplete with 3:41 remaining. That set up the drive in which the Indians (2-0, 1-0) ran out the clock.
Toms River South had built its 20-0 halftime lead on the strength of its defense, Berry’s play-making ability and Khaleel Greene’s running.
The Indians’ defense twice stopped Southern on fourth-and-1 plays in the first half. Senior defensive back Joe Berlinski and senior linebacker Billy Kosh had interceptions.
Kosh had a 1-yard TD run, Green ran for an 18-yard touchdown on a counter and Berry threw a 10-yard scoring pass to Darrius Hart with 4.8 seconds left in the half.