GLASSBORO — Penalties galore.
Stagnant offense in the second half.
It was a recipe for disaster and the Williamstown High School football team didn’t have an answer.
Toms River North got a 1-yard touchdown run from Asante Moorer on the third play of the fourth quarter and poured it on defensively en route to a 14-7 victory in the South Jersey Group 5 final Saturday night at Rowan University.
“We struggled and shot ourselves in the foot,” Williamstown senior Rich Stanzione said. “We had to play close to a perfect game and didn’t come anywhere close to it.
“It was our discipline. We were undisciplined and didn’t execute when we had to. We could have moved the ball and it was definitely a winnable game, but …
Williamstown (9-3) had eight penalties for 60 yards in the first half, finishing with 11 overall. Miscues stalled drives, pushing the Braves deeper and deeper into their end of the field.
After Joe Early’s 60-yard touchdown run with 2:30 left in the first half tied the game, they never crossed midfield again. The deepest Williamstown would get was its own 45-yard line.
The second half:
•Three-and-out for minus-1 yard.
•Three-and-out after getting the ball on an Eric Smith interception in the end zone. That possessions produced no yards.
•Three-and-out again. Another minus-1 yard offensively.
•The next possession started at its 32 but would go backward for minus-6.
•Williamstown didn’t get its initial first down of the second half until the 4:51 mark of the fourth quarter. The Braves would pick up just one more and eventually turned the ball over on downs.
•One final chance ended with an interception.
“We killed ourselves … Penalties, delay of game. I’m just disappointed,” Williamstown coach Frank Fucetola said.
“I don’t know what happened. We didn’t do anything different. I know field position wasn’t great, but we didn’t do anything different.”
The Mariners did.
“I can’t be upset. They made the adjustments at halftime,” Stanzione said. “They were definitely the better team. They had our number right from the time we got the ball in the second half.”
Toms River North (11-1) won its sixth sectional title, a tremendous achievement for a team that went just 1-9 in 2013.
“And we were a bad 1-9,” coach Dave Oizerowitz said. “We had a lot to do as a program to fix it, and we did. As a staff, we went back to work.
“This wasn’t going to be a high-scoring track meet. That’s our kind of game, but when you play in a big Group 5 final against a team with a veteran coaching staff and Williamstown guys that expect to win it every year…We were able to buckle down.”
Moorer had 23 carries for 114 yards, while quarterback Mike Husni added 23 carries for 92 yards and a first-half touchdown.
Early led Williamstown with 88 yards on eight carries.
“They were physical upfront,” Williamstown lineman Deven Lewis said. “They had a great game plan.
“It’s very frustrating. I’m more frustrated than disappointed. We had an opportunity to fulfill our goal and we didn’t win.”
Said Fucetola: “Our defense played outstanding. If you told me we’d hold that team to 14 points, I would have told you we’d win the game. I’m just sad and disappointed for the kids.”
Kevin Minnick; (856) 486-2424; firstname.lastname@example.org
T.R. NORTH 14
• Player of the game: Asante Moorer had 23 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown for the winners.
• Play of the game: Tyrik Glenn picked up a first down on fourth-and-1 late in the fourth, but the Braves couldn’t keep a potential game-tying drive alive.
• Well said: “They had our number right from the time we got the ball in the second half.” – Williamstown senior Rich Stanzione