Johnson Falls to Long Branch in State Consolation Game
Despite the 27-13 loss, the Crusaders look forward to their annual Thanksgiving Day grudge match against Rahway.
The Records: The Long Branch Green Wave (3-5) came to Clark to face the Arthur L. Johnson Crusaders (4-4). Both teams have missed the playoffs, but this NJSIAA consolation game could earn the winning team bragging rights and a sense of momentum for next season.
The Final Score: 27-13, Long Branch. Long Branch established control immediately with a strong running game led by running back Dwight Clark. Clark was able to find the end zone three times, scoring from 52, 30, and 5 yards out. Much of the running game was opened up thanks in part to the good quarterbacking by Miles Shuler which kept the Crusader defense on their heels all night. At halftime, Johnson was down 20-0 and they were never able to recover, despite opening the second half with a 78-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by P.J. Franciotti. The Crusaders' other touchdown came halfway through the fourth quarter, when Lance Pecina handed the ball off to C.J. Francisco, who then threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Franciotti to complete the flea flicker and make the score 27-13, Long Branch. The Green Wave would improve their record to 4-5 while the Crusaders would fall to a 4-5 record.
The Hero: Senior P.J. Franciotti did all he could for the Crusaders, returning one touchdown 78 yards to open the second half, and catching another 22-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
The Quote: "Offensively we moved the ball, but we didn't get anything done in the red zone," said coach Nick Gregorio. "We've got to work on our red zone offense next week."
What's Next: As is tradition, on Thanksgiving morning the Johnson Crusaders (4-5) will take on the Rahway Indians (5-4) in the annual rivalry game. No matter how difficult a season might be, a win over Rahway makes everything better.