Eagles have rematch with Cougars in CJ IV football semifinal game

first_imgBY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Middletown South Middletown High School South’s football team will be eyeing revenge in a different context when, as the No. 7 seed, it travels to No. 3 seed Colts Neck High School for the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV semifinals at 1 p.m. on Dec. 1.Coming off a gritty 21-13 Thanksgiving victory over Middletown High School North, the Eagles (7-3) remember a late season 28-9 loss to Colts Neck on Nov. 11 that dropped it from a No. 3 playoff seed at the time.“It was disappointing as far as the effort we put forth,” Middletown South coach Steve Antonucci said after the Colts Neck game that was the Eagles’ second straight loss. “That was a huge game for seedings.”After practice early this week, Antonucci said, “I don’t have to go about motivating them. They’ve got all the motivation they need, and they’re 48 minutes from a state final. I expect a much better effort. We have to protect the ball and sustain an offense. They (Colts Neck) got after us defensively and put us in a bind when we played them. We have to convert third down plays and put a drive together.”Middletown South comes off its victory over Middletown North injury-free, but it got a good warmup for its semifinal playoff game. The Eagles rallied from an early 6-0 deficit and had to hold off Middletown North’s 37-yard touchdown pass from Cody Thompson to Rob Spinelli that cut the lead to 21-13 with 3:34 left. “We need to continue to do better. We need to be more consistent in moving the ball and on defense to be a little tighter like early in the season,” Antonucci said after the Colts Neck game. It won its playoff opener, 40-8, over West Windsor- Plainsboro High School South on Nov. 16.On Thanksgiving, Thompson caught an 8-yard pass from Jake Betkowski on a trick play off a reserve as Middletown North struck first. But, the extra point kick was blocked, which Antonucci said was a “huge” play.Eagles quarterback Kyle Brey connected with Elijah Smith for a 48-yard pass play that tied it midway through the second quarter and Connor Ryan’s extra point then gave the Eagles the lead for good.“This game is always difficult because it’s a rivalry for them and it’s their last game. We have nothing to gain but bragging rights and we’re playing on,” Antonucci said. “It’s difficult to motivate our players off a playoff win like we had against West-Windsor Plainsboro South, but the kids responded.”Brey completed a 30-yard scoring strike to Andrew Wisialko for a 14-6 lead with 7:09 left in the third quarter and Smith ran nine yards for a touchdown with 7:39 left for a 21-6 lead before Middletown North battled back. Smith also was named the Defensive Player of the Game. Thompson got the offensive honor.last_img

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