Sean Morris Does It All in Barnegat’s 22-14 Opening Win

Sep 13, 2017

With a team that has few seniors in prominent spots, the Barnegat High School varsity football team’s key to success could hinge on sophomores and juniors. Junior tight end Sean Morris responded to head coach Rob Davis’s challenge in a big way on both offense and defense in a 22-14 home win against Donovan Catholic Friday night.

When the offense had the ball, the 6-4, 225-pound tight end caught six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. He was just as dominating from his defensive end position, recording seven tackles, with five coming from behind the line of scrimmage. Morris also had two sacks, one of which resulted in a safety, and forced two fumbles and had five quarterback pressures.

“That was one of the most dominant performances I’ve ever seen here,” said Davis.

Another junior who starred was running back Charles Cotton, who broke a scoreless deadlock early in the second quarter with a touchdown from a yard out. Junior kicker Dominick Guiro kicked the extra point, as the Bengals went into halftime with a 7-0 lead.

Donovan tied up when its sophomore quarterback Ryan Clark scored from 3 yards out. The Bengals went ahead on the next series when junior quarterback Brian Finucan, making his varsity debut, hit Morris with an 18-yard scoring pass. Clark, who rushed for 103 yards on 25 carries, responded with a 20-yard run to make it 14-14 heading into the fourth quarter.

Morris tackled Clark in the end zone for a two-point safety. Then, toward the end of the quarter, Cotton scored his second touchdown of the game from a yard out, making it 22-14.

“We went no-huddle on offense, and that really wore Donovan down,” said Davis. “We could see them getting a little tired, and we took advantage of that. We controlled the game from both sides of the ball.”   

The rushing attack yielded 196 yards on 40 carries, with Cotton accounting for 119 of them on 18 rushes. Senior Dillan Muratovic, a transfer from Nutley, added 50 yards on 11 carries.

Finucan completed nine of 14 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.

“He did pretty well, considering this was the first time he ever played quarterback,” said Davis. “He was on the team as a freshman, but wasn’t a quarterback. He didn’t play football last year, but he came back and there was an opening at quarterback because the two we had last year (Conner Lustenberger and Joe Monaco) had graduated.”

Defensively, Cotton had one of three Bengal interceptions, as senior defensive back Elijah Chesney and junior linebacker Brian Ewan also had pick-offs. Senior defensive end Levin Musawa had 11 tackles and a fumble recovery, and Ewan had 10 tackles.

“While we don’t have a lot of seniors on this year’s team, they showed great leadership and helped lead our young team to victory,” Davis said. “We started nine underclassmen on offense and eight underclassmen on defense. When you’re a young team, you need seniors to raise their level, and that they did.”

The Bengals’ next game is Friday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. against Shore Regional.

— Eric Englund

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