By GIUSEPPE UNGARO
MAYS LANDING – The Oakcrest High School football team refused to make excuses after it suffered its first loss of the season.
The Falcons, who were playing without four-year starting quarterback Kendall Elliott, fell to visiting perennial power St. Joseph, 26-6. The loss drops Oakcrest to 4-1. Elliott was held out with an undisclosed injury suffered in last week’s win over Overbrook.
“One person doesn’t make the team,” Oakcrest senior Yaier Hinton said. “The whole team makes the team.”
There is no doubt the Falcons missed Elliott, who is a dual threat on offense. The Falcons picked up just one first down in the first half without the help of a St. Joseph penalty.
Oakcrest quarterback Donnie Stone, who had two days to prepare, was under pressure most of the game. St Joseph sacked Stone six times. Still, Oakcrest coach Eric Anderson gave the senior reserve credit.
“For us, the game plan was still wide open and the playbook was still wide open,” said Anderson, who is in his first year as head coach. “Donny Stone is very capable. He did a great job managing the game. He did the best he could do on two days of work getting ready to be quarterback of this team. I thought he did a great job for us.”
Defensively, the Falcons cost themselves on two big pass plays in the first half. After a penalty put the Wildcats in second-and-long, quarterback Matt Tucker connected with Diego Martinez for a 57-yard touchdown pass.
Later in the half, Tucker found Jada Byers for a 27-yard score on a fourth-down play to put St. Joseph up 20-0. A stop there, and the Falcons could have faced just a two-touchdown deficit at the half instead of three.
“We were undisciplined and not in our zones,” Anderson said. “It caught our safeties and (defensive) backs off guard. The results are the results.”
“We let plays happen that shouldn’t have happened,” said Hinton, who rushed for 50 yards. “It happens to the best teams. It happens to the worst teams. We just have to live and learn.”
The Wildcats didn’t start to wear on the Falcons until the second half. Egg Harbor Township resident Qwashin Townsel rushed for 84 of his 125 yards in the second half. He also scored the second of his two touchdowns early in the third quarter to make it 26-0.
However, that was the last score of the night for the Wildcats. Oakcrest recovered two fumbles and also returned an interception for a touchdown.
Oakcrest got inside the Wildcats’ 15-yard line in the fourth quarter, but turned the ball over on downs. On the ensuing St. Joseph possession, Oakcrest linebacker Sam Govern picked off a Tucker pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown.
“I had no idea. I think I may have slipped a curse word out there when I caught it because I had no idea it was coming to me,” Govern said about the first interception and touchdown of his career. “I just caught it and started running.”
The Falcons will be looking to get back in the win column as they host Lower Cape May (1-3) next Friday.
“We are happy with the record and we are excited where our season can go from here, too,” Hinton said.
Contact Giuseppe Ungaro: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDgisepu
By GIUSEPPE UNGARO