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Young QB Andrew Marcucci gets job done as Absegami comes from behind to beat Ocean City 31-26

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By GIUSEPPE UNGARO Managing Editor OCEAN CITY – There may have been a few plays when Andrew Marcucci looked like a sophomore quarterback making his first varsity start, but for most of Friday night’s game, the young Absegami signal-caller looked like he was born to run the Braves’ offense. Marcucci and the Braves battled back from behind to top host Ocean City, 31-26, in the season-opening game for both teams. There were times the Braves sophomore may have been trying to do too much. The opening drive resulted in an interception return for a touchdown by Ocean City’s Garrett Jones. Marcucci attempted the pass while being dragged down from behind. The play gave the home team an early 7-0 lead. Ocean City would go up 20-7 later in the first half with the only Absegami highlight being a 61-yard touchdown catch and run by Vinnie Nelson. Many of Marcucci’s completions were similar to Nelson’s touchdown, as the Braves mostly relied on passes less than 10 yards, trying to get the ball into the hands of their speedy receivers. Marcucci ended the first half completing 11-of-13 passes. “I felt good,” said Marcucci, who finished the night 19-for-23 with more than 200 yards passing. “It was all the practice we had. I just wanted to play the best I could so we could win this game. I never thought we were going to lose.” Senior wide receiver Austin Shiner and the Absegami Braves rallied to beat Ocean City in the season opener, exacting some revenge from last year's 19-12 loss to the Red Raiders. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O'Sullivan) Senior wide receiver Austin Shiner and the Absegami Braves rallied to beat Ocean City in the season opener, exacting some revenge from last year’s 19-12 loss to the Red Raiders. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan) “I’m proud the way he responded after throwing that interception,” Absegami coach Dennis Scuderi said. “He did an excellent job running our offense. This was a big win for us to be able to get out of here 1-0. They are a tough football team and have a lot of good football players.” Marcucci, who also proved he can be accurate from outside the pocket, connected on a 23-yard pass to Chris Dolan. After Marcucci avoided the rush by rolling right, he found Dolan, who made a leaping catch near the sideline to set up the Braves’ second touchdown. Three plays later, Marcucci capped the 12-play, 80-yard drive with a quarterback sneak. The drive not only

exhibited what Marcucci and his teammates can do in the offense, but also helped give the Braves momentum. Absegami finished the half in spectacular fashion as Marcucci found Austin Shiner on a short pass. Shiner, who was about to be tackled for a short gain, flipped the ball to Nelson, who raced to the end zone for the score and a 21-20 Absegami lead. The Braves didn’t trail again. “I knew there was about 20 seconds left, so I told Austin to pitch it back because if it hit the field I knew we would go into halftime down (six),” Nelson said. “He did it and I tried to make a play, and that’s what happened.” The Braves opened the second half with an 8-play, 68-yard drive, finished off with a run by Marcucci. Absegami added an insurance score early in the fourth quarter after Zach Sterr booted a field goal to finish off a long, 12-play drive. Ocean City scored the last touchdown on a spectacular run by junior quarterback Andrew Donoghue to make it a five-point game. The Red Raiders had the Braves facing a 3rd-and-15 in their own end, but a pass interference ended any hope of an Ocean City comeback. Contact Giuseppe Ungaro: gungaro@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDgisepu

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