By TIM KELLY
You can’t start a football season much better than the Ocean City Red Raiders did Friday night, pasting Lower Cape May 35-0 in a West Jersey Football League inter-division game.
You also can’t start a game much better.
The Raiders (1-0) scored on their first four possessions, including a four-play, 58-yard drive that featured four consecutive first downs.
Junior quarterback Joe Repetti made a spectacular debut as the Raiders’ starter. He passed for a pair of touchdowns, Isaac Wilson ran for two and sophomore kicker Brendon McMonigle went 5-for-5 on extra points as the Raiders racked up a 35-0 lead by halftime.
The lead made the NJSIAA “mercy rule” kick in for the second half, mandating a running clock for the remainder of the contest. There was no further scoring as the Raiders took many starters out the rest of the way.
The Raider defense was equally impressive, limiting the Tigers to less than 50 yards of total offense for the half.
Special teams looked great as well. In addition to his five extra points, McGonigle boomed two kickoffs out of the end zone, and the punt coverage team made it rough on the Tigers’ kicker all game.
With the win, the Raiders gathered momentum for next Friday’s home and West Jersey Football League Independence Division opener at Carey Stadium. Lower Cape May (0-1) will try to regroup when it hosts Riverside.
Ocean City’s offensive dominance was apparent on its first possession. Repetti hooked up for a 10-yard gain to Jake Schneider to open the game. Then Isaac Wilson ran for 13 and Repetti came back with a 16-yard hookup with Brian Beckman.
Jake Inserra’s 19-yard scoring run and McMonigle’s first PAT boot made it 7-0 in the game’s first minute and 39 seconds.
After holding Lower Cape May to a 3-and-out, and pressuring a bad punt, Ocean City got the ball back at the Lower 30-yard line. Three plays later it was 13-0 on a 22-yard run by Wilson. A penalty forced McMonigle to re-kick the PAT to make it 14-0.
Although Lower finally got its initial first down with 3:38 left in the half, Ocean City’s defense held again, highlighted by a Michael Rhodes sack.
On the Raiders’ first play after taking over on downs, Repetti sold a play-action fake and uncorked a 42-yard scoring pass to Schneider for a 21-0 lead before the clock expired on the first quarter.
Hoping to get something going offensively, the Tigers tried an end-around but the play was sniffed out by Tommy Oves after a five-yard gain.
It was that kind of night for Lower Cape May quarterback Connor Eckel, who was about the Tigers’ only offensive threat, running and passing. As a result, the Ocean City defense sent a four and sometimes five-man rush, effectively shutting down Lower Cape May’s attack.