TOMS RIVER The last week was certainly not a fun one for anyone associated with the Toms River High School North football team.
But, if the Mariners wind up winning some championships, the lopsided loss to Brick Memorial sustained on Sept. 18 might turn out to be the catalyst.
“We needed a wakup call,’’ Toms River North junior quarterback Mike Husni said.
The Mariners put the Brick Memorial game in the rear view mirror as Husni threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more and the defense scored on two fumble returns as Toms River North defeated rival Toms River South, 55-20, in the 44th renewal of the rivalry before an overflowed crowd at Toms River North’s Gernerd Field.
The win enabled Toms River North to cut Toms River South’s lead in the series to 24-19-1 and was their 13th win in the past 14 meetings with Toms River South.
Husni said the 52-20 loss at Brick Memorial educated he and his teammates on a lot of fronts.
“We just thought we knew everything. We hadn’t been practicing that hard,’’ Husni said. “But, this week, we made sure we practiced. We stayed after. We watched more film. We went to team dinners. We had this bond.’’
Toms River North coach Dave Oizerowitz deflected blame from his players for the Brick Memorial game.
“I told the kids it (the Brick Memorial loss) was on the coaches. It wasn’t on them,’’ Oizerowitz said. “We (the coaching staff) made the mistakes.’’
Oizerowitz said part of the job of his coaching staff this past week was to be instructive in pointing out the mistakes the Mariners made in defending the triple option Brick Memorial runs out of the flexbone set knowing Toms River South runs the same offense as Brick Memorial.
“We didn’t yell at the kids. We don’t yell at the kids,’’ Oizerowitz said. “It was about are we going to fix this? And this is what we did wrong.’’
Toms River North (2-1, 2-10) jumped on the Indians (2-1, 1-1) right from the start.
After the defense forced a three-and-out on Toms River South’s first possession, Husni hit Darrion Carrington on a 45-yard pass play to the Indians’ 5. Two plays later, Husni scored on a 4-yard run.
On the first play of Toms River South’s next possession, the Toms River North defense scored the first of its two TDs as junior linebacker picked up a fumble off a sack and raced 20 yards for a TD to make it 14-0.
Toms River North extended the lead back to 14 points on the first play after the kickoff as junior receiver Bryce Watts took a “Bubble Screen’’ from Husni and raced 80 yards for a TD.
A 3-yard TD run by Asante Moorer and a 18-yard Husni TD run made it 34-7 at halftime. Toms River South, which lost four fumbles in the first half, was also stopped on the Mariners’ 2 yard line on the final play of the half.
A 24-yard fumble return by Toms River North senior linebacker Anthony Storino made it 41-7 47 seconds into the third quarter.
Toms River South pulled within 41-20 on a Jaden Kosh to Sosa 4-yard TD pass and a Kosh 11-yard TD run before Carrington scored on TD passes of 44 and 13 yards from Husni with the final one coming with 6.8 seconds remaining.
The history of the rivalry was on display at halftime as legendary former head coaches Ron Signorino Sr. (Toms River South) and Bob Fiocco (Toms River North) were inducted into the Great American Rivarly Hall of Fame with legendary Toms River South public address announcer Dave Correll reading off Signorino and Fiocco’s accomplishments. The Toms River South-Toms River North rivalry is part of the Great American Rivarly series.
Key Play: Bryce Watt’s 80-yard catch and run for a TD off a “Bubble Screen’’ pass from Mike Husni.
Offensive game ball: Mike Husni for his three TD passes and two rushing TDs and 289 yards of total offense.
Defensive game ball: Toms River North senior defensive lineman Dashon Copes caused havoc all night.
Up next: Toms River North hosts Marlboro (0-3) on Oct. 2. Toms River South hosts Lacey (0-2).
Steven Falk: 732-643-4267; firstname.lastname@example.org
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