LACEY TOWNSHIP - Jake Dabal of the Lacey Township High School football team ran a sweep near the Pinelands Regional goal line in the second quarter Saturday afternoon.
Dabal easily could have have beaten the Pinelands defender to the corner of the end zone. Instead, he lowered his shoulder and ran right over him for a touchdown.
The play epitomized Lacey's effort.
The Lions' first-team offense scored every time it had the ball, and Lacey won the Shore Conference B South game 42-0. The Lions (3-0) are No. 3 in The Press Elite 11.
"I wanted to make a statement with the run," Dabal said. "I like to hit people. We just played Lacey football."
Lacey physically dominated the line of scrimmage on offense and defense. Quarterback Craig Cicardo rushed for three touchdowns. Lacey rushed for 269 yards.
Lineman Dave Viera (two tackles for losses) sparked a Lions defense that posted its second straight shutout. Zach Torrell, Pat Jensen and Matt Uvegas each intercepted a pass for the Lions.
"The (offensive and defensive) lines helped us win the game," Lacey coach Lou Vircillo said. "Our kids have a good chemistry this year."
Fans filled the home and visiting bleachers on the unseasonably warm day to watch these teams play. Pinelands and Lacey, located 16 miles apart by the Garden State Parkway, hadn't met since 2005 because they were in different divisions until the Shore Conference realigned primarily by geography this past offseason.
Pinelands (2-1) came into the game with momentum and hopes of an upset. The Wildcats averaged 49 points in their first two games, with running back Matt McLain rushing for more than 300 yards in both contests.
McLain carried 21 times for 79 yards Saturday.
"We knew McClain was a great back," Torrell said. "All week we've been emphasizing 11 guys to the ball."
It took Lacey four offensive plays and less than two minutes to take a lead it never would relinquish.
A 44-yard run by Jarrod Molzon (four carries for 92 yards) set up Cicardo's 1-yard touchdown run to give the Lions a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes, 15 seconds left in the first quarter.
Torrell's interception led to Lacey's second score. Viera pressured the Pinelands quarterback into a rushed throw. Torrell intercepted the ball and returned it 68 yards to the Pinelands 12-yard line.
"I think Dave Viera tipped it," Torrell said. "It came right to me. The whole team started throwing blocks for me."
Two plays after the interception, Molzon scored on a 2-yard run to put Lacey ahead 14-0.
Lacey looked crisp on offense and defense. Uvegas and Molzon both made crunching blocks to help Torrel (three carries, 57 yards) gain big yards on sweep plays.
Lacey has outscored its opponents 107-7 this season.
The Lions were expected to be South Jersey Group III contenders.
So far, they haven't disappointed.
Contact Michael McGarry:
Pinelands 0 0 0 0-0
Lacey Township 14 21 7 0-42
LT-Cicardo 1 run (Ruhnke kick)
LT-Molzon 2 run (Ruhnke kick)
LT-Cicardo 14 run (Molzon kick)
LT-Dabal 3 run (Molzon kick)
LT-Cicardo 2 run (Ruhnke kick)
LT-Torrell 13 run (Ruhnke kick)
TEAM STATS PR LT
First Downs 6 10
Rushing 87 269
Passing 76 26
Turnovers 3 0
Rushing-Pinelands, McLain 21-79; Lacey, Cicardo 8-30, Dabal 5-69, Molzon 4-92, Torrell 3-57.
Passing-Pinelands, Keller 2-9-3-76; Lacey, Cicardo 4-5-0-26.
Receiving-Pinelands, MacPhee 1-46, Hartman 1-30; Lacey, Torrell 2-15, Molzon 1-8, Dabal 1-3.
Records-Pinelands 2-1, Lacey 3-0.