The Red Bank Regional High School football team was in the position it wanted at the midway point of the second quarter against Holmdel High School in the first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s South Jersey, Group 3 sectional playoffs on Nov. 8 in Holmdel.
Sprinting out to his right, Red Bank quarterback Jack Chamberlain threw a 30-yard pass up the left sideline to wide receiver Nick Ferrogine for his first touchdown pass of the night to give the No. 5-seeded Buccaneers the first TD of the game with 6:10 to play in the first half.
However, Red Bank couldn’t stop the fourth-seeded Hornets from driving down the field to respond with a score of their own and then take the lead on a two-point conversion that was helped by the Buccaneers shooting themselves in the foot with a roughing the kicker penalty.
Sloppy play by the Buccaneers in the third quarter allowed Holmdel to take a 15-point lead into the fourth quarter en rout to Holmdel scoring a 22-14 victory that knocked Red Bank out of the playoffs.
“The kids worked all year to make the playoffs,” said Red Bank head coach Dave Schuman. “Unfortunately we came up short here in the first round.”
Standing at 5-4 now on the season, Red Bank will try to end the season on a high note when it takes on rival Long Branch in the annual Thanksgiving Day matchup.
“We just need to come back and work harder,” Schuman said. “We’ll be ready for Long Branch.”
Red Bank had a chance to take the lead into the half with a 35-yard field goal attempt, but Myles Day blocked Chris Maida’s kick that kept Holmdel up 8-7 at halftime.
Holmdel scored a touchdown on the first possession of the second half to extend its lead to 15-7.
On its first drive of the second half, Red Bank faced a tough decision with a fourth down and inches at its own 22-yard line.
The Buccaneers decided to go for it, and didn’t get the result they wanted. Chamberlain fumbled the snap and was tackled in the backfield to allow Holmdel to take over on downs with great field position.
Holmdel scored two plays later with running back Thomas Ammirati galloping in from 15 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the quarter to extend the Red Bank deficit to 22-7.
Ammirati also had a 28-yard touchdown pass off the flea flicker for Holmdel’s first score of the game, giving him three total scores for the night.
Trailing by 15 going into the fourth quarter, Red Bank continued to battle tough and cut the Holmdel lead to 22-14 with just over eight minutes to play. Chamberlain threw a bullet to wide receiver Gordon Ogdon on the slant for a 12-yard score for his second touchdown pass of the night.
The senior quarterback finished with 168 yards passing in the game.
Red Bank got a shot to tie things up and force overtime by getting the ball back with 1:43 to go at its own 20-yard line. Chamberlain was able to drive the Buccaneers down to the Holmdel 39-yard line to set up one last play to the end zone with six seconds left.
Red Bank decided to try the hook and ladder play to get into the end zone, but Makai Mickens got wrapped up by the Holmdel defense.
“The third quarter was terrible,” Schuman said. “We were able to get a couple drives going in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough.”
Senior wide receiver AJ Abarno had seven catches for 72 yards in the contest for Red Bank Regional.
Red Bank forced four turnovers in the game. Junior defensive linemen Dan Jurek had two fumble recoveries for the Buccaneers.
Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports