EWING, N.J. - The Central Jersey Group 1 football final between Florence and Shore Regional came down to fourth and inches, and everyone on the Florence sideline knew what play to expect.
"I looked at Coach and said, 'We need to stuff the middle because that's where they're going to go,' " junior Curtis Thompson said. "Coach trusted me, and we did it."
That play was a quarterback sneak. The Flashes stopped Matt Muh at the line of scrimmage to end the game and emerge with a 23-17 victory over the Blue Devils in two overtimes Saturday at the College of New Jersey.
Shore Regional (9-3) had used the same play twice prior, and Flashes coach Joe Frappolli echoed Thompson's feelings:
"We mashed everybody in there. We thought they were going to do that, and the quarterback never got a push. Our guys just burrowed in there."
With the score 14-14 entering the fourth quarter, both kickers converted field goals in the final frame of regulation. Doug MacArthur connected on a 24-yarder to give Florence the lead midway through the quarter. Shore kicker Jake Monterio answered with a 30-yarder to even the score with less than two minutes remaining.
Florence (11-1) was led on offense by a balanced rushing attack featuring Thompson, who ran for two scores, and Rich Myers.
Myers rushed for 118 grueling yards, none more impressive than on his last carry in the second overtime. On first down, Myers barreled over defenders for a 5-yard touchdown that proved to be the winning score.
"Honestly, I had to really fight for that one. I was feeling a little sick today, but it's not too bad right now" an elated Myers said after the game.
For Frappolli, in his 39th season, the win marks his fifth sectional title. But it seems plans were in the works to celebrate as if it were his first.
"We're going home. We've got a victory celebration. The fire trucks are waiting," Frappolli said. "Listen, we practice hard, we play hard, and we're going to party hard tonight."
Shore Regional 077300-17
F: Curtis Thompson 2 run (kick failed)
SR: Kevin Masica 24 pass from Matt Muh (Jake Monteiro kick)
F: Thompson 1 run (Marcus Gehin run)
SR: Mark Costantino 13 pass from Muh (Monteiro kick)
F: FG Doug MacArthur 24
SR: FG Monteiro 30
F: Rich Myers 5 run (pass failed)