LITTLE SILVER – The return of Red Bank to prominence in the Shore Conference has produced an undefeated record, a championship and — best of all, the Buccaneer players say — the upper hand against rival Long Branch in their long-running Thanksgiving series.
“It’s amazing because for so many years we hadn’t beaten Long Branch, and now we do it and get the title,’’ running back Alim Godsey said Thursday after his two touchdowns helped Red Bank to a 35-12 victory over the Green Wave.
Red Bank (11-0) had lost four straight against Long Branch (3-7). Long Branch leads the series 60-30-3.
The result gave the Bucs the outright Class B North championship — their first division title since 1977 — and kept their momentum going into next week’s Battle of Ridge Road. Red Bank will face Rumson-Fair Haven (the two schools are a few miles apart on Ridge Road) on Dec. 5 in the Central Group III championship game.
Godsey, who had a game-high 62 rushing yards, scored on a three-yard run that capped a 13-play, 72-yard drive that ate 7:27 of clock in the second quarter. That gave Red Bank its first lead at 7-6.
Godsey added a 25-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter. Red Bank followed with touchdowns on a 23-yard touchdown pass by Jack Navitsky to Syracuse commit Sadiq Palmer and a four-yard Palmer run.
“We were down a few points but we had no worry at all,’’ Godsey said. “We came out sloppy and probably underestimated Long Branch but we adjusted. We came together as a family and played our best football after that.’’
Tyrese Morris, who contributed 27 yards to Red Bank’s total of 245 rushing yards, said, “We hadn’t won against Long Branch on Thanksgiving in a couple of years and we felt like we needed to do it. That got us going.’’
At stake in the series is the claim to the Ty Lewis Memorial Trophy. Lewis, an All-Shore football and baseball player at Red Bank in the 1960s, was the first black head football coach in Monmouth County and was the head coach at Red Bank when he died in 1990.
The trophy was presented to Red Bank by his brother, Mark Lewis, who told the teams gathered at midfield after the game: “There’s no greater sport. You learn relationships. You learn strength and weaknesses, and you learn how to work together.’’
Red Bank next week will be seeking its first sectional championship since 1975, when it capped the season with a legendary 46-44 win over Hightstown.
Key play: Long Branch was leading when Red Bank quarterback Jack Navitsky on a fourth-and-one scrambled for 12 yards. It kept alive a drive that would go on to last 7:27, culminated by a thee-yard touchdown run by Alim Godsey.
Offensive game ball: Godsey scored the first two touchdowns for Red Bank and had a game-high 62 rushing yards.
Defensive game ball: This one goes to Red Bank kicker Jack O’Connor and his kickoff coverage unit. Long Branch’s first four possessions of the second half started at the 20 (touchback), 12, 10 and 20 (touchback).
Up next: Red Bank faces Rumson-Fair Haven for a state section championship on Dec. 5. Long Branch’s season is over.
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