LINWOOD - Following three straight losses, the Mainland Regional High School football team did enough things right Friday to get back to its more familiar winning ways.
The Mustangs played well defensively most of the way and defeated mistake-prone Oakcrest 25-8 in a Cape-Atlantic League American Conference game.
Mainland (4-3 overall, 4-2 conference) had a 15-game winning streak snapped Oct. 9 with a 42-7 loss to Holy Spirit, and Mainland lost to Hammonton and Millville the last two weeks. Oakcrest (3-4, 2-4) had won two straight before committing three turnovers in Friday's loss.
"Our losses came against three good teams," Mainland coach Bob Coffey said. "We really wanted to get a win today, and I'm proud of how hard our kids played. All year they've done that, but especially tonight. We made some mistakes, but we still have a lot of guys who are young and need experience. But we made up for it with how hard we played."
Mainland rarely challenged Oakcrest star defensive back Craig James and stayed mostly to the run. Mainland's first touchdown was set up when the Falcons fumbled on their own 9 yard line. Mustangs running back Dan Boudreau made a quick move around left end on the next play for a 9-yard TD.
Mustangs freshman quarterback Tom Bradway often ran keepers up the middle and scored the game's second touchdown with a 2-yard run off right guard. Mainland's other score was a safety on the first play of the second quarter. Oakcrest punter Robby Jiacopello had the snap go over his head, and he was tackled in the end zone.
"(Oakcrest's) James is a playmaker and I kept him in my eye the whole game," Bradway said. "Oakcrest is a good team and we didn't take them lightly. We made some plays and came out with a good win."
Trailing 15-0 at halftime, the Falcons had better execution for most of the third quarter as Larry Perna and James alternated at quarterback. The Falcons drove to the Mainland 30 but the drive stalled. On Oakcrest's next possession, Mainland linebacker Michael Anderson tipped a Perna pass, defensive tackle Cemah Tudae-Torboh grabbed it for an interception and ran 34 yards to another touchdown.
"I never scored a touchdown before," Tudae-Torboh said. "It feels great. It's something that only happens once in a while. You have to enjoy it when they come."
Oakcrest got on the board when James threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to running back Michael Smith. Four plays earlier, James threw a 40-yard pass to Smith. James, who verbally committed to play football at Villanova University, ran for two points after the touchdown as he outran everyone around left end.
Oakcrest fumbled a Mainland punt on its own 30 yard line in the fourth quarter. Five plays later, Mainland freshman kicker Jim Cooper booted a 20-yard field goal.
"You can't make that many mistakes against Mainland and win the game," Oakcrest coach Scott Parker said. "You can't do that against a good team. Mainland is young, but they made plays. If it wasn't for the interception, we would have only been down one (touchdown). When you have two pretty good football teams, the one that turns the ball over more will lose, and that's exactly what happened."
Contact Guy Gargan:
Oakcrest 0 0 0 8 - 8
Mainland Regional 6 9 7 3 - 25
M-Boudreau 9 run (kick failed)
M-Safety. Jiacopello tackled in own end zone
M-Bradway 2 run (Slotoroff kick)
M-Tudae-Torboh 34-yard interception return (Slotoroff kick)
O-Smith 20 pass from James (James run)
M-Cooper 20-yard field goal
First downs 13 7
Rushing 39 106
Passing 74 46
Turnovers 3 0
Passing-Perna 2-6-1-8; James 4-7-0-66 O; Bradway 3-7-0-46 M.
Rushing-James 23-36, Brown 8-38, Perna 2-(-13), Jiacopello 1-(-30), Smith 2-2, Bell 5-9, Arroyo 1-0, Santiago 1-(-3) O; Bradway 17-57, Boudreau 2-14, Evans 10-36, Prince 1-(-1) M.
Receiving-McMunn 2-8, Smith 3-62, Jiacopello 1-8 O: Fortunato 1-10, Prince 1-10, Irizarry 1-26 M.
RECORDS-Mainland 4-3; Oakcrest 3-4.