Barnegat Bengals Enjoy Home Opener Cakewalk, 41-13
Prior to the season, Barnegat High School varsity football coach Rob Davis had two quarterbacks – seniors Conner Lustenberger and Joe Monaco – and Davis was looking to ride the hot hand. Then Monaco got injured, leaving Lustenberg as the regular signal caller, and he responded by throwing four touchdown passes in a 41-13 victory over Manchester on the Barnegat home field Sept. 23.
Lustenberger, who completed 13 of 20 passes for 235 yards, piloted an offense that amassed 332 total yards. They nearly doubled Manchester’s output of 170 total yards.
Barnegat struck first in the first quarter when Lustenbrger hit Hunter Mauro with a 23-yard scoring pass. The next score was set up when Manchester fumbled a kickoff, giving the Bengals the ball at the opponents’ 15-yard line. Senior running back Jake Schmitz ran it in for 15 yards out.
In the second quarter, Schmitz, who led all rushers with 56 yards on 11 carries, scored on an 8-yard run. On the next possession, Lustenberger connected with senior receiver Eric Becker on a 26-yard touchdown pass. The Bengals then went into the locker room at halftime with a 27-0 lead.
In the third quarter, Lustenberger showed he has a strong arm as he heaved the football 55 yards to open senior receiver Jacques Picault, who got behind the defense and ran into the end zone untouched. The Bengals’ final score came when Lustenberger hit sophomore tight end Ryan Morris with a 32-yard scoring strike.
Davis said Morris is one of eight sophomores starting for the Bengals, and sees him as major impact player. Football is certainly in his bloodlines, as his older brothers Ryan and Kyle were former Bengal standouts at tight end. Ryan plays at Villanova, while Kyle suits up for Johns Hopkins.
“I think Sean definitely has Division 1 college potential,” said Davis. “Even though he’s young, he plays like a seasoned veteran. He’s also going to fill out and get stronger. He has a tremendous upside.”
The Hawks got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when they took advantage of a Bengal turnover, as junior running back Jalen Glenn ran one in from 2 yards out. The visitors also scored on a 57-yard run by junior quarterback Jerry Lee Ward late in the fourth quarter.
With the win, the Bengals improved to 2-1 on the season, and are 2-0 in Class B South play. The Hawks are 1-2.
Last year, the Bengals didn’t win their second game until the season finale on Thanksgiving, and Davis said the team wanted to quickly erase that memory.
“The kids were really up for the home opener,” he said. “This was an opportunity to make a statement, and they sure did. I think we played a really good game on both sides of the ball.”
Davis had plenty of praise for his quarterback.
“Connor has shown a lot of poise,” said Davis. “He’s very smart and did a great job reading the defenses. He definitely has big play capability.”
Lustenberger added, “For the most part, they were guarding against the long pass, so I was able to hit various receivers on shorter routes, and they did great running after the catch. I think our offense is strong both in passing and running.”
Defensively, junior linebacker Juan Axzavier Abraham led with seven tackles, and junior defensive lineman Levin Musawa and sophomore linebacker Brian Ewan had six stops each.
Next on the schedule is a home game against Manasquan on Sept. 30. The Warriors are in the Shore Conference B-North and sport a 2-1 record (1-1 in the division).
“Manasquan is traditionally very tough,” said Davis. “They lost last weekend at home to Middletown South, 21-14, and Middletown is the second-ranked team in the state.”
— Eric Englund