LACEY TOWNSHIP - The Barnegat High School football team didn't believe the hype.
Critics said in the week leading up to Saturday's Shore Conference game that the Bengals' defensive front would be no match for Lacey Township's run-heavy attack.
The Bengals heard the talk.
They just didn't listen.
Barnegat rode the momentum from a key goal-line stand late in the third quarter to score three touchdowns in the fourth and beat the Lions for the first time, 26-2.
"All week long, we heard that we couldn't stop the run and that we were going to get beat," Barnegat quarterback Mark McCoy said. "Our main focus was to stop the run and change the culture at Barnegat to being a physical team."
Lacey (2-3) trailed only 7-0 and had the ball on the Barnegat 1-yard line with time winding down in the third.
Quarterback Tom Kelly dropped back and handed off to standout running back Kyle Spatz on third-and-goal.
John Dowd, Chris Stoma, Matt Schofield and the rest of the Barnegat defense met Spatz at the line and stopping him short.
On fourth down, Kelly handed the ball to the first man through, fullback Jake Timony.
But Timony was stuffed short as the Lions turned the ball over on downs.
"Beating Lacey here at their place is a great win," Barnegat coach Rob Davis said.
Davis was an assistant to Lacey coach Lou Vircillo before starting the program at Barnegat (2-2), which played its first varsity season in 2006.
"This is tradition right here," Davis said of Lacey. "I'm trying to teach it and preach it. To experience it is something that is going to elevate our program. That's the plan."
Barnegat nearly gave momentum right back to the Lions as Davis called for a long passing play from inside his own 1-yard line.
The Bengals were called for holding in the end zone, and the Lions were awarded a safety and the ball.
Lacey didn't do much with the opportunity.
Pat Moran intercepted Kelly on third-and-long as he jumped a flag route.
Moran ran the ball back to Lacey's 6-yard line, which set up McCoy's 1-yard sneak to make it a two-possession game.
After a Lacey three-and-out, Barnegat's David Smithman took over the game.
Barnegat started its possession from its own 45.
With Lacey stacking the box, Smithman carried seven straight times and capped off the series with a 16-yard touchdown run. It was his second TD after a 51-yard catch in the second quarter.
"I felt like I was running in the land of the giants," Smithman said, referring to Lacey's defensive line. "They are big, but I guess we had more heart in this one.
"The whole time, we were expecting to win. We were the underdogs, but there was never a thought in our minds that we were going to lose."
Down three possessions, Lacey was forced to take to the air, and Jordan Salt ended any hopes of a comeback when he intercepted Kelly's next pass and ran it back for a touchdown.
Barnegat held Lacey's Spatz to 47 yards on 21 carries. Lacey had only 43 yards rushing in the entire game.
Barnegat now has won back-to-back game after two losses to open the season and finds itself right back in the mix in the Shore Conference B South and South Jersey playoff picture.
"Every week for us from here on out is a playoff game," McCoy said. "We gave our first two games away, and we don't want that feeling ever again. We talked as a group after the second loss and said we couldn't give any more games away."
Contact John O'Kane:
Barnegat 0 7 0 19-26
Lacey Township 0 0 2 0-2
B-Smithman 51 pass by McCoy (McCoy kick)
LT-Saftey (holding penalty in the end zone)
B-McCoy 1 run (kick failed)
B-Smithman 16 run (McCoy kick)
B-Salt 42 INT return (kick failed)
TEAM STATS B LT
Rushing 71 43
Passing 112 69
First downs 8 4
Penalties 4-35 5-28
Turnovers 0 3
Rushing-Barnegat, Smithman 16-69, Ulrich 2-4, McCoy 9-(-2). Lacey Township, Spatz 21-47, Boos 3-5, Timony 2-(-1), Kelly 2-(-8).
Passing-Barnegat, McCoy 6-12-112-0. Lacey Township, Kelly 7-17-69-3.
Receiving-Barnegat, Smithman 3-65, Morris 2-32, Salt 1-7. Lacey Township, Detroia 4-52, Fernandez 2-18, Timony 1-(-1).
Records-Barnegat 2-2; Lacey 2-3.