TINTON FALLS – Over the years, the name Tyler Thompson has become synonymous with Ocean Township football. On Thursday, Thompson’s career as a Spartan came to a fitting end.
Thompson ran for 195 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries and also grabbed a 63-yard touchdown catch to led the Ocean past Monmouth, 34-7, on the road.
“You can’t replace a Tyler Thompson,” said Ocean head coach Don Klein. “Every year you hope to find some guys who can step up after seniors graduate, but Tyler is a once a career type talent. We were blessed to have him for four years. We’re going to miss him as both player and a person.”
After a bit of a slow start, the Spartans led just 13-7 going into half time but then ran off 21 unanswered second half points. On their first possession of the third quarter, Ocean put together a 10-play, 61-yard scoring drive to extend the lead. Thompson carried 9 times for 41 yards, including a 13-yard carry into the end zone.
“We thought that was the game,” said Klein. “We shot ourselves in the foot a little and we thought if we could get the football and score some points there, we’d be in a good spot.”
The Spartans were able to establish their running game in the second half as Thompson had 132 of his yards after the break.
“I’m not going to lie,” said Thompson. “In the first half, we came in real cocky because we’ve had a real good season. We didn’t know much about Monmouth, but they woke us up a little, and in the second half, we came out and did what we could.”
Later in the third, Thompson added an 8-yard score to extend the lead to 27-7. In the fourth quarter, he grabbed a short pass from quarterback Kenny Pickett near the right side line and took it a long way into the end zone for a 63-yard touchdown.
In the first half, Monmouth put a scare into Ocean. The Falcons forced the Spartans to punt on their first two possessions and took an early lead on a 10-yard touchdown run from quarterback Casey Pachucki.
Pickett responded with a 38-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Ruquan Dean and then Thompson put the Spartans up 13-6 with a 5-yard touchdown run.
“We made some adjustments at half time,” said Klein. “They did a decent job taking away some of the things we wanted to do initially, but the adjustment we made was to go right at them and Tyler did what Tyler’s done for four years.”
Ocean now leads the Thanksgiving series against Monmouth 18-2.
“This is both of our Super Bowls,” said Thompson. “It’s the last game of the season, especially for our seniors. We’ve been playing with each other since third game.”
The win wraps up a memorable 9-2 season for the Spartans.
“Ultimately every year our goal is to win championships,” said Klein. “We fell a little short of that but 9-2 is a tremendous season. We had a lot of big wins and we feel really good about where we’re at as a program.”
KEY PLAY: In the third quarter, Thompson took a hand off and ran 13 yards untouched into the right side of the end zone to put the Spartans up 20-7.
OFFENS IVE GAME BALL: Thompson finished with a game-high 195 rushing yards, ran in three touchdowns, and also grabbed a 63-yard touchdown catch.
DEFENSIVE GAME BALL: Goes to the Ocean front who contained the Falcons running game, especially in the second half.
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