WALL – The Thanksgiving Day tradition between Wall and Manasquan did not disappoint both fan bases on Thursday morning, as both teams put on a show of high-action fast-paced football.
After falling behind to Manasquan 27-21 at the half, it was Wall’s dominant third quarter with three unanswered touchdowns, that eventually led the Crimson Knights to the 43-35 victory over the Warriors.
The second straight win for Wall over Manasquan tied the Thanksgiving Day series at 8-8 between the two rivals.
For Wall senior quarterback Matt Cluley, it was a less than ideal final season under center, battling injuries throughout the entire 2015 season. His final game on Thursday, would be the only game he was able to play all four quarters.
He made the most of it on Thanksgiving Day.
Both on the ground and through the air, the senior willed his team to victory, something Wall head coach Dan Curcione admitted being emotional about after the win.
“I saw him play and have fun out there, this year hasn’t been very fun for him,” Curcione said. “It was emotional to watch him out there today, I still feel that way, he’s a great kid and a great leader.”
A crucial decision to go into a hurry-up offense at the start of the third quarter was what got things rolling for Wall. The Crimson Knights drove 75 yards in just 1:30, as Cluley found Sean Larkin for the touchdown pass.
After a recovered fumble on the defensive side of the ball by Wall’s Billy Schneider, the Crimson Knights drove down again in the hurry up, which led to a touchdown run from Chevesse Covin, putting Wall up 36-27.
After another stop from the Wall defense, Cluley found Larkin again for a 13 yard touchdown pass.
“Once we got in the hurry up their heads starting spinning,” Cluley said. “It was kind of a game changer, and the momentum swung in our favor.”
In the end, it was two critical runs from Wall’s Cluley and Covin that kept the chains moving, and allowed Wall to line up in the victory formation.
“It’s bragging rights we are bordering towns, I see them at the beach all time,” Cluley said. “It’s nice to be able to go out 2-0 against them, it was a good team win, everyone was out there playing for the seniors.”
Curcione was glad to see his team fight back in the second half, knowing that every game against Manasquan is a big one for the program.
“Manasquan is well coached, it’s a great tradition to be able to play them,” Curcione said. “The beginning of the game was like a championship atmosphere, these two communities haven’t lost the rivalry aspect, and that’s why it’s always an exciting game.”
Key play: Fourth quarter third down runs from Matt Cluley and Chevesse Covin helped Wall kill the clock for the win.
Offensive game ball: Although Covin rushed for 3 touchdowns, it was Cluley that led like a senior should through the air and on the ground for Wall.
Defensive game ball: Billy Schneider recovered a big fumble in the third quarter, and the Wall defensive line also stepped up with sacks in the second half.
Chris Parker firstname.lastname@example.org
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