Barnegat Football Team Cruises to Victory Over Pinelands With Big Third Quarter

Southern Advances to Playoffs
By DAVID BIGGY | Nov 06, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Barnegat’s Dominick Aneses celebrates after recovering a fumble in the first quarter of the Bengals’ 33-6 victory over Pinelands Regional on Nov. 1.

Little Egg Harbor — After sitting out the NJSIAA’s mandated 30 days following his transfer from Pinelands Regional High School to Barnegat, junior running back Nik DiLeo finally got to see live game action a few weeks ago. But there was one game on the schedule to which he really was looking forward – the one against his former squad.

On Nov. 1, Bengals head coach Rob Davis made sure to utilize DiLeo’s talents accordingly, as Barnegat scored a 33-6 victory over the host Wildcats.

“I was super fired up about this game,” said DiLeo, moments after he completed a 143-yard, three-touchdown effort to lead the Bengals. “We’ve been working hard every day, getting better in practice. We have a great group of guys and our work ethic is really good. I was waiting for this game the whole season.”

On a sloppy, drenched field – the heavy rain from the day before didn’t seem to have drained much – it took the Bengals’ offense some time to get moving. With only one possession by the midway point of the first quarter, DiLeo didn’t touch the ball much.

But after Dominick Aneses recovered a fumble at the Barnegat 44-yard line with 1:51 left in the first, the Bengals moved the ball into Pinelands territory. As the 10-minute mark of the second quarter approached, DiLeo made his presence felt, breaking through into the secondary and rumbling 41 yards to the end zone. Matt Xiques booted the point-after kick for a 7-0 lead.

The Bengals held the advantage until later in the half, before the Wildcats’ special teams crew made some noise with 1:45 to go. On fourth down, Xiques’ punt attempt from about the 10-yard line was blocked by Connor Harris, and John Morrin pounced on it in the end zone to make it 7-6. Pinelands’ two-point conversion failed and the Bengals’ took the one-point lead into the half.

The second half had a start contrast to the first. Barnegat (4-4) not only emerged from the locker room and played better, it completely dominated play right from its first possesion, culminated by DiLeo’s 5-yard burst into the end zone with 9:53 left in the third. On the Bengals’ next play scrimmage, which began at Pinelands’ 39, junior running back T.J. Crudup, who racked up 72 yards on the ground, zipped through the line, cut to the right side of the field and blazed down the sideline to the house, making it 19-6.

After Pinelands’ next punt attempt was blocked, the ball bounced out of bounds at the Wildcats’ 15-yard line with 5:58 to go in the third. A few plays later, senior quarterback Matt Vernieri busted into the end zone from 4 yards away and Xiques kicked the extra point to make it 26-6. On fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line and 1:28 left in the quarter, DiLeo pounded the ball into the end zone again. Xiques capped the scoring with his third PAT.

“It’s a rivalry game, and when emotions are running high you have to weather the storm. We had to come out in the second half and execute,” said Barnegat head coach Rob Davis. “Offensively, we did some formational things that put them into tough positions and gave us the ability to do what we wanted to do, things that could work for us. We played good football in the second half and I’m proud of the kids.”

After struggling to move the ball during the third quarter, Pinelands (1-7) found a bit of an offensive groove in the fourth. Led by Harris, the junior quarterback, the Wildcats started their last possession on their own 35 and marched down to the Barnegat 26 before the drive stalled out on four plays, allowing the Bengals to run out the final 1:34.

“Barnegat came out in the second half and played great, but our kids fought hard and have been fighting all season,” said Pinelands head coach Matt Fuller. “If you look at our record and look at the scores, a lot of them have been close games. But whether we’re down 33-6 or 7-6, or up going into the fourth quarter, we just want our kids to fight for four quarters and keep playing hard. They’ve done that.”

With the NJSIAA playoffs arriving this weekend, neither Barnegat nor Pinelands will be playing beyond Friday, as both were scheduled to play “regional crossover” games on Thursday, Nov. 7. The Bengals were slated to host Middle Township, while the Wildcats were set to host Jackson Liberty.

Southern Football Squad Beats Central, Makes Playoffs

Following its second loss of the season a week earlier, the Southern Regional football team got back to winning on Nov. 1, as the Rams took a 14-9 lead into halftime and ended up knocking off Central, 21-16. The victory secured an NJSIAA South Jersey Group V playoff spot for Southern.

Against the Golden Eagles, the Rams opened the scoring in the first quarter with a pair of touchdowns and extra points – the first on a 59-yard TD pass from Cole Robinson to Xavier Hendricks and the second a 22-yard TD run by Robinson, with Hank Gallacher booting both PATS to make it 14-0.

Holding a 14-9 lead in the third quarter, Robinson completed a scoring drive with a 1-yard run and Gallacher made it 3-for-3 on PATs to make it 21-9 heading into the fourth. Central cut the lead to seven points later in the contest, but Southern improved to 7-2. Robinson completed three or six passes for 109 yards and ran for 27, while Jaiden Brown led the offense with 152 yards rushing on 29 carries, as the Rams accumulated 313 yards of total offense.

Earning the fourth seed for the SJ Group V playoffs, the Rams are scheduled to take on fifth-seeded Vineland on Friday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m.

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