Barnegat Football Overmatched By Mater Dei Prep

By DAVID BIGGY | Oct 10, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

When the Barnegat High School football team emerged from the locker room and ran onto its field for the start of its Shore Conference Patriot Division title clash with Mater Dei Prep on Oct. 5, the Bengals gave every indicator they were ready to tussle.

At the center of the field, as the Seraphs’ players chattered from their sideline, several Bengals clapped their hands with excitement about the upcoming action, while others glared at the opposing squad with their game faces set to stun. Still others riled up the troops as they readied for action.

And then the bomb dropped on the Bengals’ opening kickoff. Fortunately for Barnegat, Isaiah Noguera’s 90-yard kickoff return was waved off because of a block in the back penalty.,But then the battle was just about over on the next play from scrimmage, when Malik Ingram carried the ball 78 yards into the Bengals’ end zone.

“This Mater Dei team is the best our program’s every played,” said head coach Rob Davis, after his Bengals sustained a 43-0 defeat. “In 2006, we played the Manasquan team that was one of the better teams in the Shore at the time. And this Mater Dei team is better. They’ve got athletes from all over the world, and much more speed. Most of their kids haven’t even played a full four quarters in any game this season, so far. And our kids just couldn’t make plays against their Division I athletes.”

The Bengals (4-1) managed to move the ball from their 20-yard line to Mater Dei’s 48 during their first possession of the first quarter. But once Barnegat was forced to punt with just over nine minutes left, the Seraphs (6-0) proved how superior they were, taking just two more plays to make it a 14-0 contest. Clarence Lewis snatched a pass from quarterback Rob McCoy, broke a tackle along the left sideline and raced 77 yards to the end zone.

Mater Dei started its fourth possession of the quarter at its own 15 and four plays later, which included a 62-yard run in which Ingram bulldozed several Bengals, hit pay dirt again when Ingram plunged through the line for a 1-yard TD. On their first possession of the second quarter, the Seraphs pulled off a trick play they decided to practice: a double reverse followed by a pitchback to McCoy, who launched a 64-yard bomb to a wide-open Noguera.

The ensuing botched PAT was about the only good thing that happened for Barnegat, but it was still 27-0 with seven minutes left in the half. And Mater Dei didn’t relent. It needed only three plays to score on its next possession; and two plays on the following possession, capping a 41-0 half with a 20-yard strike from McCoy to Isaiah Alston.

With a continuously running play clock in the second half, the game ended in a crisp 23 minutes.The Seraphs’ first possession of the second half resulted in a punt, which was downed at Barnegat’s 1-yard line. Later, Mater Dei stuffed Isaiah Chesney trying to come out of the end zone, and the 2-point safety capped the scoring.

The Bengals finished with 85 yards of total offense. Quarterback Brian Finucan managed to complete five passes for 29 yards, while running backs Charlie Cotton and Valentino Iorio combined for 49 yards rushing. Caleb Schafer caught three passes for 16 yards.

“They’re on our schedule and we played them, like we’re supposed to,” Davis said. “But when’s the best time to play Mater Dei? I don’t know. If we played them 10 times, they’d probably beat us 12 times. That’s how good they are. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. We were just overmatched. But the difference is, I recruit from my (school) hallways. They get athletes from all over the place. So, we got our little butt-whipping, and now it’s over. We can move on.”

With the divisional schedule now complete, the Bengals can look toward the second half of its season with optimism. In the post-game gathering on the west side of the field following Friday’s loss, Davis reminded his team it had started off 4-0 and are a good football team still with a lot of noise to make. Barnegat’s next four contests are against Keyport, Point Pleasant Borough, Toms River South and Marlboro.

“We just have to keep playing consistent football,” he said. “Right now, we’re a big four and a small one. We have four good wins and a loss we’re not even going to worry about. We’re going to fill up the gas tank again and get ready for our next four-game winning streak.”

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