Point Boro wins in OT, remains unbeaten

HOLMDEL – Jake Croce was getting into the end zone. It didn’t matter how many defenders he had to drag there with him.

There was plenty on the line. An undefeated regular season. Better positioning in the playoffs. A division crown.

All of that rested on Croce’s shoulders, and he delivered.

With some powerful, angry running, Croce punched the ball in from seven yards out in overtime to lead Point Boro to a thrilling 19-13 victory against St. John Vianney on Friday night. The win improved the Panthers’ record to a perfect 8-0 and helped them lock up the Independence Division title.

Point Boro's Jake Croce runs the ball during the first half of the Point Pleasant Borough vs. St. John Vianney at St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel, NJ Friday, October 21, 2022.

“I really wanted it that bad,” Croce said. “I wanted to get in the end zone so bad after our defense got a stop. I was like, we have to win this.”

The game-winner

Point Boro scored in two plays during its game-winning opening overtime drive. Croce attacked a massive hole set by the offensive line and gained more yardage as Lancer defenders attempted in vain to take him down. With that run taking the Panthers down to the seven-yard line, Croce took the same approach on the next play and muscled his way into the end zone.

WEEK 8:Shore Conference football scoreboard, highlights

Croce, who finished the game with 125 rushing yards, was initially filling in for the injured Connor Cilento, but head coach Brian Staub returned him to A back where he could inflict the most damage.

“He runs hard, he runs angry, he runs with low pads, and that’s exactly what we want our running backs to do,” Staub said. “He was a little bit quiet in the first half because he was playing L back for Cilento. Then we had to put him at A back and just grind it out.”

Point Boro's Jake Croce scores the winning touchdown in overtime during the Point Pleasant Borough vs. St. John Vianney at St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel, NJ Friday, October 21, 2022.

The dominant Point Boro offensive line, led by Temple commit Cole Skinner, opened massive holes for the Panthers runners all game long as they rushed for 315 yards. Croce said he owed the line some food as a reward for their performance, perhaps some Dunkin’ Donuts.

“I love them. They’re like my brothers,” Croce said. “It’s a great time running behind (them).”

The defensive stop

It took a huge defensive play to set up Point Boro’s game-winning drive.

On fourth down, St. John Vianney set up for a 42-yard field goal that would have given the Lancers a three-point lead. Instead, holder Kyle Verriest took the snap, rolled out and looked down field for a pass. The Panthers immediately sniffed the trick play out as Wyatt Dewysockie made the initial tackle and Connor Reynolds and Maddox Samaritano helped clean up on the play.

Point Pleasant Borough celebrates their win against St. John Vianney at St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel, NJ Friday, October 21, 2022.

In his film study, Staub said he noticed St. John Vianney typically kicked the field goal in similar situations, but he had a plan B just in case.

“It was 50-50 at that point,” Staub said. “We did have some safety valves. We knew, especially with Verriest, the holder, he’s a playmaker.”

The biggest test thus far

With Point Boro routinely winning by 40 points or more in every other game this year, this was by far its biggest test of the season.

Similar Posts