For the second straight week against a Shore Conference Class B North opponent on the road, Ocean couldn’t muster much offensively. The difference between last week at Neptune and Friday evening at Matawan is that against the Huskies, the Spartans were the ones trailing and in need of the big offensive play. This, a week after it survived a 7-0 win against Neptune.
So on Friday, trailing 3-0 with the clock creeping inside 3:00 to play, Ocean quarterback Royal Moore knew in his own mind he wanted to call a screen pass for sophomore running back Tyler Thompson. He convinced his coaches on second-and-15 from his own 45-yard line that that should be the call. Head coach Don Klein and his staff listened to their quarterback and it paid off.
Moore warded off trouble in the backfield and hit Thompson, who avoided a host of defenders all the way down the field in scampering for a 55-yard touchdown pass. Mike Fisher’s extra point capped the scoring with 2:56 to play and delivered Ocean (3-0, 2-0), ranked No. 7 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10, a second straight divisional road win in what is arguably the Shore Conference’s toughest division.
“The kids stayed with it, Tyler found the open spot and we did a real good job down field. It was a big play,” Klein said. “It was huge, absolutely huge. This is going on two weeks now that we’ve been fortunate to win football games because we’re playing good teams that are well-coached.”
The touchdown pass was Moore’s only completion of the second half as he finished 3-for-8 for 76 yards, while Thompson rushed for 77 yards on 18 carries in addition to his touchdown catch. This wasn’t a night for the defense and that’s fine given the Ocean defense held a capable offensive unit in check for a second straight week.
Matawan (2-1, 1-1), coming off a 31-point outburst last week at Freehold, was held to just 140 yards of total offense as Spartans senior linebacker Mike Halawani registered two and a half sacks and three tackles on the night.
Down 7-3 and in need of a touchdown late, the Huskies moved the ball to the Spartans 29. After a spike and an incomplete pass, Halawani sacked James Pierce for a four-yard loss to set up fourth-and-14 back at the 33. Pierce dropped back looking for DeJohn Rogers along the right sideline, but Moore, playing cornerback, got a good jump on the ball to pick off Pierce at the 18 to ice the game.
“I think we’ve started to develop a really good team, especially after winning these last two games,” Moore said. “We just have to keep taking it one game at a time and keep staying focused on what we need to do.”
Ocean was fortunate that two first-half fumbles did not turn into more damage. One fumble in the first quarter would eventually turn into a missed 43-yard field goal by Huskies senior Mike Creamer that had the distance, but was wide left. Halawani pushed Ocean six yards back on the play before the field goal try thanks to sacking Pierce.
The second fumble came in the red zone and would eventually become a 26-yard field goal from Creamer to open the scoring late in the first half.