BRICK – The NJSIAA football playoffs have began … and in round one, in Central Jersey Group IV action Friday night, top-seeded Brick Memorial made a pretty good case that it might have the championship formula.
The Mustangs (8-2) scored the first six times they had the football, building a 38-0 lead before settling for a 38-6 victory over eighth-seeded Jackson Liberty (4-6).
What was Memorial’s winning formula? It’s difficult to figure out what part of the Mustang team deserves the most credit. Sophomore Tony Thorpe scored three touchdowns, rushed for 161 yards and has over 1,000 yards on the year. Great game. Great sophomore season.
The thing is …. Memorial’s offensive line might be better. Senior twins Mike and Anthony Nobile and fellow senior Chris Hayes are a force on both sides of the ball, opening up gaping holes on offense – stuffing the run and getting after the quarterback on defense. Mike Nobile sacked Liberty quarterback Ryan Vanwickle with such a fast force a couple of times that the QB could have gotten whiplash.
What do you think coach Walt Currie … is this team ready to win Memorial’s first sectional title since 2008?
“We started fast tonight,’’ Currie said. “Our O-line got a big push early. Our quarter-back (senior Tim Santiago) did a good job of reading the play and getting the football to the right guys.’’
Those linemen sure impressed.
“Mike Nobile (5-11, 270 pounds) has great feet. And (Chris) Pappy Hayes and the rest give us a very formidable defensive line. They are physical. They are fast. And they like to get after it.’’
Memorial will host the winner of this afternoon’s 1 p.m. Freehold-Allentown winner in the CJ IV semifinals next weekend.
The Mustangs rushed for 237 yards … before halftime. On their first possession, it took one minute and 25 seconds to reach the endzone. On their second possession, it took 1:13 to score the touchdown. Third time it took 3:05, but that drive went 89 yards over six plays.
The fourth first half possession ran out of clock at the Jackson six yard line and Memorial settled for a field goal as the second quarter ended.
That first possession took three plays. First Brandon Cipriano ran for 27 yards. Then it was Thorpe’s turn. His first carry went for eight yards. Thorpe’s second run was a straight up the gut 40 yard touchdown.
“There it is … Touchdown!” the sideline exclaimed as soon as Thorpe broke through the line of scrimmage.
On Memorial’s second possession, Santiago kept the ball on two of the three play scoring drive. He scampered in from 32 yards out to put the ‘Stangs up 14-0.
Meanwhile, when Jackson had the ball, Mike Nobile sacked VanWickle for eight and nine yard losses.
Memorial’s third possession saw Thorpe score from four yards out. Key plays were a 39 yard keeper by Santiago and … on the ‘Stangs first pass attempt, an acrobatic 28 yard catch from sophomore wide receiver Grant McKelvey, who stretched out and leaped like Superman to haul in Santiago’s pass.
Matt Cuppari’s 23 yard field goal put Memorial on top, 24-0 at the half. Cuppari’s first three kickoffs reached the endzone, forcing Jackson to take over at its 20 yard line each time.
At the half, Thorpe had 93 yard rushing and Santiago had 97 on just five carries.
Two minutes into the third quarter, the score became 31-0. Thorpe carried three times for 39 yards on the drive and got the touchdown from 24 yards out.
Fellow sophomore Cipriano completed Brick’s scoring, taking a pitch and running in from six yards out late in the third quarter.
Jackson avoided the shutout when VanWickle teamed up with Brandon Yorke on a 24 yard post pass into the left endzone.
KEY PLAY – On the first play of the game, Cipriano ran 27 yards and it was clear that Jackson could not handle Memorial’s offensive linemen.
OFFENSIVE GAME BALL – Goes to Thorpe for reaching the 1,000 yard mark as a sophomore.
DEFENSIVE GAME BALL – Goes to Mike Nobile for his punishing first half sacks.
NEXT UP – Memorial hosts Freehold or Allentown in a CJ IV semifinal next weekend.
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