Point Pleasant Beach: While driving to Point Beach to it was, and still is, hard to imagine that just a few short weeks ago a majority of the area was adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy. On the approach to Donald T. Fioretti Field, roads were still filled with debris and clutter that was once part of someone’s home and property. Although this solemn reminder of what was did not dampen the spirits of those that came out to support the Point Beach Gulls and the visiting Shore Regional Blue Devils on Thanksgiving morning.
Prior to the game, first responders and key volunteers unfurled a massive American Flag near midfield. As their names were called, onlookers from both sides cheered them for their efforts and saluted them for their hard work, dedication, and service during and after the storm.
After opening ceremony the two teams met at midfield, readying to play for a division title. This game, billed as “Where the Shore meets the Beach,” had the potential as a possible playoff preview; however there was a huge twist. If the 9-0 Gulls were to win, this would be the first Point Beach team since 1945 that would remain undefeated. The pressure was on for both teams, but Point Beach was feeling it more.
From the get-go, the Gulls were all over the Blue Devils scoring a touchdown on the 8th play of the opening drive, which took almost seven minutes off the clock. Unfortunately, the Gulls missed the extra point.
On the ensuing kick off, the Blue Devils fielded an awkwardly short kickoff on their 42-yard line but were unable to move the ball and went four-and-out.
Both teams traded offensive possessions one more time during the fist quarter; however, neither team was able to put more points on the board. At the end of the quarter, the score remained 6-0 Gulls.
The second quarter was much like the first. Both teams traded possessions and it looked like things were going to swing Shore’s way at 8:44 of the period, when the Blue Devil’s stopped the Gulls on 4th down.
On the perusing offensive possession of the game Shore was finally able to move the ball against Point Beach. Their drive was kept alive when two penalties, a rouging the passer and pass interference, call was made on the same play which moved the Blue Devils into the red zone.
After trying to move the chains three times, Shore attempted a field goal. Unfortunately, the ball was kicked wide left and the points were left on the field.
As the Blue Devils were struggling to move the ball, the Gulls were starting to tack on points. The Gull’s offense was clicking and they were able move the ball well on the Blue Devils defense. Combining both short throws and power running, Point Beach ran the ball into the end zone, opening the lead up to 13-0.
On the next possession, the Blue Devils started to put things together. Almost mocking the Gull’s strategy, the Blue Devil’s started moved the ball to mid field when Mark Costantino broke loose on an end-around run to score a long touch down run making the score 12 -7.
With less than two minutes left in the half, Point Beach went into their modified offense and was able to manipulate their way down the field, setting themselves up for three chances to score before the half ended.
With less than 20 seconds left in the half, the Gulls went to the air, where they floated a beautiful pass to the rear of the end zone for another touch down. Playing the averages, Point attempted a two-point conversion; however, Shore manned up well and was able to sniff out the pass and broke up the play.
The second half was much like the first; however, both team’s positive advances were negated by critical fumbles or interceptions in the game. Unfortunately, Shore’s turnovers kept their seemingly tired defense on the field against an offensive looking to make history.
During the third period, Point Beach added seven more points, scoring a halfback option play from the eight-yard line. The score, now 19-7, and it would remain that way for the rest of the contest.
At times both teams seemed to match up well against each other, but, on this day, the Gulls’ game plan, execution, and approach were more than the Blue Devil’s could handle. This win brings Point Beach their first divisional title since 1997 and their first undefeated season since 1945.
Although tough, Shore has to look past this loss and focus on their next home game against Asbury Park on 11/30/12 at 7:00pm in the Central, Group 1 playoffs.
For more information about the Shore Regional’s Football program, please visit: http://www.shorefootball.net/