TOMS RIVER Whatever the Toms River South coaches said to their Indian football team at halftime … it worked! Whatever coach Ron Signorino Jr. and his staff are teaching sophomore quarterback T.J. Scuderi … it’s working.
At Toms River East Friday night, South’s offense erupted after the intermission. The Indians (2-0, 1-0 in Class A South), had three second half possessions. All three resulted in sustained scoring drives of 93, 73 and 59 yards.
Stuck in a scoreless 0-0 game at the half, South came out and overpowered East (0-2), 21-0. The defense pitched a shutout on the strength of 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
“We thought we’d be ready to play in the first half, but we were slow to start,’’ coach Signorino said. “We went to basics. We raised our voices at the half, and we really came out and played well.
“Those sustained drives were a beautiful thing. T.J. really played well in the second half.’’
The sophomore Scuderi, who missed six freshmen games last year, ran the option offense like a veteran. Senior Dashaun Alexander powered for 146 yards on 19 carries. Utilizing the option, Scuderi scored the three touchdowns on runs of three, seven and 20 yards.
“At the half, the coaches yelled at us to get our heads in the game,’’ Scuderi said. “We came out after half with an attitude, we ran it down their throats the rest of the game. The option … we practice that over and over all offseason. Nonstop.’’
Scuderi did his part, breaking tackles and shrugging off ankle tackles along the way.
The Indian defense held East to 12 second half yards.
After a 52 yard punt from the Raider’s standout junior kicker Bradley Brush, the Indians offense took over at its own seven yard line with 7:40 remaining in the third quarter. Seventeen plays and over six minutes later, Scuderi rolled left, elected not to pitch the ball, turned upfield over his left tackle and darted into the endzone from three yards out.
“Its about time’’ echoed across the South sideline. All 93 yards came on the ground. Alexander had the longest gainer, a 16 yarder after a perfectly timed Scuderi pitch.
East went backwards on its next possession and South took over at its 41 yard line. Alexander ran for 35 yards, Tyler Sosa ran for 22, Scuderi went in from seven yards out on the right side this time.
Sosa intercepted an East fourth down throw, setting up South’s third touchdown. The 13 play drive eat up over four minutes of the clock and the 21-0 lead effectively ended the game. Alexander and Scuderi took turns marching down the field.
Jason Porter’s interception thwarted East’s final drive and preserved South’s shutout.
East Brush stood out. Despite Indian pressure, the junior averaged 46 yards on four punts.
East reached the South 28 yard line in the second quarter after a 64 yard run by Norion Davis. Indian Justin Minniti prevented a touchdown, catching Davis from behind.
KEY PLAY – On South’s first second half possession, Alexander just got enough for a first down on a four yard gain from the Indian’s 13 yard line. A foot less and South would have punted instead of marching 93 yards.
OFFENSIVE GAME BALL – Despite Alexander’s explosive running, the ball goes to Scuderi for his fine decisions running the option.
DEFENSIVE GAME BALL – Let’s share with between the entire South defensive line. East’s offense often had no where to go with Jaden Kosh and Jake Iavedia leading the way.
UP NEXT – South is at Toms River North, Friday at 7 p.m. East hosts Brick on Saturday night, 7 p.m.