TOMS RIVER, N.J. — Toms River South head coach Ron Signorino Jr. had a message for his defensive coordinator Bill McDonnell when Lacey (Lanoka Harbor, N.J.) began a possession inside its own 1-yard line with 5:31 remaining Saturday.
“I said, ‘I’ll take 2-0 right now,’ ’’ Signorino Jr. said.
A 2-0 win is what Signorino Jr. and his team got as senior linebacker Jake Newton and junior defensive lineman Jake Iavedia teamed up to tackle a Lacey ballcarrier in the end zone for a safety with 5:24 left.
“He (McDonnell) called a great play and Jake Newton and Jake Iavedia kind of smothered it (the play),’’ Signorino Jr. said. “To me, there was no doubt about it. It was purely a safety.’’
Friday night, Brick defeated Jackson Memorial and Triton defeated Highland in South Jersey, 2-0.
The only points in the Brick game came with 5:50 left in the first quarter when a snap on an attempted Jackson Memorial punt sailed out of the end zone. Jackson, which had an 11-game winning streak snapped, missed a 33-yard field goal and had a 23-yard field goal blocked in the third quarter.
In Toms River, the winning play was set up by a punt by senior R.J. Laing that the wind helped keep the ball rolling until several Toms River South players downed the ball just before it reached the goal-line. Had it hit the goal-line, it would have been a touchback and Lacey would have begun its possession at the 20. It went into the books as a 53-yard punt.
“I’m saying, ‘Let it roll. Let it roll. Let it roll,’ ‘’ Signorino Jr. said. “Then, it was getting a little too close (to being a touchback). They did a great job surrounding it.’’
The safety came on the first play after the punt.
The first 3 ½ quarters were an exercise in frustration for both offenses.
Lacey missed field goals from 41, 42 and 44 yards in the first half, with the first missing coming after a 60-yard drive that was sparked by a 45-yard run by Connor Wilson (102 yards on 21 carries) and the second two misses coming after fumble recoveries. Toms River South fumbled seven times and lost three.
Toms River South had its best drive in the third quarter, when behind the running of senior quarterback Jaden Kosh (70 yards on 19 carries and senior running back Dashaun Alexander (79 yards on 16 carries) it moved from its own 20 to the Lacey 7. However, the seven-minute drive ended with a botched snap on what would have been a 24-yard field goal attempt.
Lacey then drove from its 16 to the Toms River South 31 before it lost a fumble.
“I think the weather was the winner,’’ Signorino Jr. said.