Win keeps Southern alive for playoff berth

Win keeps Southern alive for playoff berth


Win keeps Southern alive for playoff berth


Southern coach Chuck Donohue Sr. knew his team played far from a perfect game Monday night.

However, the Rams’ 19-7 win over Lacey at Ron Emmert Field at Goldberger Memorial Stadium in a Shore Conference Class A South game set up an even more important game for them Friday night at home against Brick Memorial.

“(Monday night) was a win any way you can,’’ Donohue Sr. said. “That’s about the way we won. Now, we’ve got something to play for.’’

Southern (4-3, 3-3) will qualify for the NJSIAA South Group V playoffs with a win over Brick Memorial (5-3), which has already qualified for the South Group IV playoffs and has played the eight games that count toward playoff qualification.

The Rams are currently ninth in the South IV power rankings with 71 power points. They will earn 26 power points should they beat Brick Memorial. That, for starters, would move them past Toms River North, which has 85 power points, is in sixth-place in the South V power ratings and has played the eight games that count toward qualification.

Ironically, Toms River North defeated Southern on Oct. 25.

“Going into the eighth game with something to play for, you can’t ask for much more than that,’’ Donohue Sr. said.

Monday night’s game turned into a struggle in the second half for Southern.

Three penalties for 39 yards, which greatly aided Lacey (1-7, 0-6) on its touchdown drive in the third quarter, and the elusivness of Lions’ senior quarterback Conor Davies (20-for-33 for 168 yards and a TD) made things hairy for the Rams in the second half.

Davies’ 9-yard touchdown pass to Mike Bocchini with 32 seconds left in the third quarter and Davies’ extra point pulled Lacey within 13-7.

The Lions then drove to a second-and-3 at the Southern 19 on its next possession before a delay of game penalty followed by a 2-yard Davies’ scramble left them with a fourth-and-6 at the 22. Rams’ junior defensive back Nick Simonelli then broke up a Davies’ pass to Bocchini that would have given the Lions a first down inside the 15.

Three plays later, Southern was faced with a third-and-6 at its own 26 when senior wide receiver Dom VanDeBrook raced 24 yards on a “Jet Sweep’’ to the right for a first down. It was VanDeBrook’s only carry of the game.

“He did a great job and we got a couple of blocks on the flank,’’ Donohue Sr. said.

Junior running back Pat Walker (15 carries for 100 yards and two TDs) raced 50 yards up the middle for the clinching TD with 5:30 left.

“The Walker kid is a clutch player. He made a great run,’’ Donohue Sr. said.

Southern built a 13-0 halftime lead on a 6-yard TD run by Walker — which came five plays after a 12-men on the field penalty on Lacey turned a fourth-and-6 in which Southern was going to punt into a fourth-and-1 that the Rams converted for a first down — and a 45-yard TD run by senior running back Ryan Winkler (16 carries for 124 yards).

“As long as you have a chance (to qualify for the playoffs), you come out fighting,’’ Donohue Sr. said. “We have to play better.’’

Key play: Dom VanDeBrook’s 24-yard run for a first down on a “Jet Sweep’’ on a third-and-6 at the Southern 26 with six minutes remaining.

Game ball: Southern’s Ryan Winkler ran for 124 yards and two TDs.

Key stat: Southern held Lacey to minus 12 yards rushing on 33 attempts.

Up next: Southern hosts Brick Memorial Friday night. Lacey hosts Toms River East Saturday.

Steven Falk: 732-643-4267;


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Win keeps Southern alive for playoff berth

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