Weather? What weather?
The Ocean City High School football team performed as if on a fast and dry track Friday night, ignoring a misty rain and gusty winds as they ran up 34 first half points en route to a 41-20 defeat of Bridgeton Friday night.
With the West Jersey Conference Independence Division win, the Red Raiders improved their record to 2-0 overall as they look forward to an always tough matchup on the road next week at Absegami. The loss dropped Bridgeton’s record to 0-2.
OC kept the early season momentum going after its 25-6 win last week at Egg Harbor Township.
“This team (Bridgeton) scared me to death, to be honest with you, because they are so explosive,” Ocean City coach Kevin Smith said. “We were afraid of what could happen if their quarterback got out of the pocket, and they hurt us at times but our defense did a great job overall.”
The weather did not deter the fans either, as much of Carey Stadium was filled despite the soggy conditions. The student section was packed and the cheering was loud.
Bridgeton’s defense neutralized the Raiders’ run game early, so Smith ignored the rain, which was heavy at times, and the wind and opened up an aerial show starring senior quarterback Ian Aungst.
“You take what they give you, and we have a good quarterback and good receivers,” Smith said. “We were able to beat their coverage and do some things. But even with the lead, I was worried.”
After Bridgeton ran a third quarter punt back for a touchdown to close the gap to 34-20, Ocean City sealed the game on a big special team play of its own. About midway through the fourth quarter, an errant punt snap sailed off the Bridgeton punter’s hands and rolled all the way back to the Ocean City end zone. Senior nose guard Austin Green made an outstanding hustle play and recovered the ball for the touchdown to provide the final margin.
“It’s hard to learn how to win,” said Smith, “but I think this group is learning what it takes. We’re a great practice team. When you practice well, and win, it’s a lot of fun.”
The Raiders, who qualified for the NJSIAA playoffs last year for the first time in a decade, are now 19-8 in their last 27 games.
Smith awarded the game ball to Stephen Leypoldt, a sophomore offensive and defensive lineman whose mom Pam was injured in a serious car crash earlier in the week.