GLASSBORO – When you think of smash mouth football, your first memory should be of the 2015 Toms River North football team.
The Mariners exemplified that characteristic on Saturday night at Rowan University against Williamstown in the NJSIAA South Group V final.
The Mariners had touchdown drives of 99 yards and 52 yards and withstood a Williamstown defense that is one of the best in the state to come away with a 14-7 victory.
“When I came into the program as a freshman, coach Dave Oizerowitz said in a couple years we are going to make a run. We don’t know if it is this year, next year, your junior year or maybe even your senior year,” Toms River North junior quarterback Mike Husni said. “But he never lost hope in us and that is all we can ask for in a coach.”
And Oizerowitz’s prediction came true during Husni’s junior year as the quarterback rushed for 104 yards on 24 carries and completed the Mariners 99-yard drive on the 17th play, which was Husni’s 6-yard touchdown run with 11:56 left in the second quarter.
“We had to help our defense out if we wanted to come out with the victory,” Husni said. “Whatever they gave us, we took. That was the game plan.”
And it worked to perfection.
If Husni wasn’t carrying the ball on Saturday night, it was senior running back Asante Moorer, who finished with 24 carries for 114 yards and Moorer had the other Toms River North touchdown, which was a 1-yard run with 10:45 left in the fourth quarter, which gave the Mariners the lead for good.
“We’ve won six titles now but this is the first South Jersey Group V title for us. It is pretty sweet,” Oizerowitz said. “We went 12-0 in 2007 and beat a great Mainland team, and this victory is right there with it, maybe better, because we’ve come so far in (the last) three years.”
The No. 4 seed Mariners were 1-9 in 2013. They went 6-5 last year. And the Mariners wrapped up an 11-1 season, winning their 10th game in a row, with a memorable performance against No. 3 seed Williamstown (9-3) on Saturday night at Rowan University. The Mariners rushed for 269 yards on 51 carries and held Williamstown to 187 yards (155 rushing, 32 passing) of total offense. Toms River North with its powerful offensive line also controlled the game as the Mariners picked up 17 first downs to Williamstown’s six first downs.
“We were 1-9, then we got to the NJSIAA South Group V semifinals and played a great Cherokee team and fell to them,” Oizerowitz said. “Our kids had that scoreboard (picture) against Cherokee up in our weight room all offseason with the goal to get back in the semifinals and advance to the final. If we got here (to the final). We weren’t losing. We are 6-for-6 in NJSIAA sectional finals now (in school history).”
And that’s something you can brag about.
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Play of the game: Moorer’s 1-yard touchdown run with 10:45 left in the fourth quarter. Initially, it looked like Williamstown had stopped Moorer short of the end zone but his second effort, along with a great push by the offensive line, got him into the end zone.
Offensive game ball: Moorer and Husni accounted for 49 of the team’s 51 rushing attempts and 258 of the team’s 269 rushes yards against a very good Williamstown defense. They were equally important to the Mariners’ offense.
Defensive game ball: Junior defensive back Darrion Carrington made two fabulous defensive plays when the Mariners needed a stop on defense. On third and three from the Williamstown 45-yard line, the Braves’ quarterback senior Rich Stanzione tried to go down field but Carrington stuck his hand out just in time to knock the ball away with just 1:58 left in the game. Then with 11 seconds left, Carrington intercepted Stanzione to seal the game for the Mariners.
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