Trailing 7-0 to Red Bank in the final two minutes of the third quarter, Wall had to rely on something unconventional to get its struggling offense going.
On third-and-5 from the Red Bank 28-yard line, the Crimson Knights surprised the Bucs with a halfback toss as senior running back Pete Miceli hit a leaping Kyle McDonough a yard in front of the goal line. The trick play allowed the Crimson Knights to tie it up on the following play and ignited a comeback that sent Wall to an eventual 14-7 road win over the Bucs.
“You always have a trick play in your back pocket when you need it,” Wall head coach Nick Gregorio said. “We practiced it all week and we felt like it was good time to get it out there.”
The 27-yard completion was the Crimson Knights’ longest gain of the night and was more than their entire offensive output in the first half. On the following play, senior quarterback Jack Gifford punched in a 1-yard keeper to tie the game at 7 with 1:39 to go in the third quarter.
With 2:32 remaining in the fourth, Wall took over from its 44-yard line, and Gifford and Miceli led the Crimson Knights on a 6-play, 56-yard game-winning drive. On the drive, Miceli carried three times for 24 yards and also hauled in a 19-yard reception from Gifford. With 49 seconds to go, Gifford ran in a 2-yard touchdown that gave Wall its first lead of the game, 14-7.
After getting bottled up by the Red Bank defensive line in the first half (minus-13 rushing yards on seven carries), Miceli finished the second half with 60 yards on 11 carries. Red Bank senior Xavier Williams led the Bucs defense, bringing down Miceli for a loss three times in the first half.
“I think our offensive line had a little more confidence in the second half,” said Gregorio. “We had a pretty good idea of what they were doing and how they were trying to defend us, so we played a little more confident in the second half and that helped the run game a bit.”
Gifford finished with 67 rushing yards and two touchdowns on eight carries.
“Things just really clicked on the offensive line,” he said. “We knew it was 0-0 and we had to win.”
Red Bank had its chance to take the lead in the fourth when junior defensive back Andrew Cook picked off a pass from Gifford with 4:53 remaining. Five plays later, though, the Bucs were forced into a punt that set up Wall’s game-winning drive.
After a scoreless first half, the Bucs broke through first. Four minutes into the third quarter, Mario Williams run 9 yards up the middle and into the end zone to give Red Bank its first lead at 7-0. Williams finished with 87 yards on 15 carries.
The Bucs had their scoring opportunities in the first half, but coughed up two fumbles in Crimson Knights territory.
“Our defense played incredible,” said Gregorio. “Our offense put them in bad spots at times with bad field position, but they just rose to the occasion.”