OCEAN CITY - Egg Harbor Township High School coach Tony DeRosa didn't have much to say to his team at halftime on Friday night. The Eagles sat in the locker room trailing Ocean City, waiting for him to say something.
This was the first time all season EHT trailed at the half, and DeRosa left the talking to his seniors.
Tejay Johnson, Zach Agostino and Scott Miller inspired EHT at halftime and the play was apparent on the field. The Eagles' running game overwhelmed Ocean City (2-4) in the second half and EHT beat the Red Raiders 28-14 in a Cape-Atlantic League American Conference game. EHT (7-0) is No. 5 in The Press' Elite 11.
"What I liked to see from our team is we overcame some adversity," DeRosa said. "It's the first time we have been down at the half. We got on them a little bit, but we turned it over to the seniors. We said this is your team, your year. You lead them. They're competitors. Individually, they're great competitors. Our team feeds off of them"
Egg Harbor Township put up 140 of its 233 rushing yards in the second half.
Agostino scored the go-ahead touchdown with 6 minutes, 37 left in the third quarter and caught a two-point conversion to make it 21-14.
Johnson scored in the fourth quarter on a 64-yard run to give EHT a two-score cushion with 10:21 left. Miller scored the first two touchdowns for the Eagles.
Ocean City moved the ball through the air on the Eagles. In the first half, senior Chris Curran hit Michael Coccodrilli for a 77-yard catch. Coccodrilli nearly scored, but the quick EHT safeties caught up to him 6 yards before the goal line.
However, Ocean City didn't to stay out of the end zone for long. Two plays later, Curran ran in for a 4-yard score, which tied the game at 7-all.
"The safety was really aggressive, but I got past him," said Coccodrilli, who had 124 yards on six catches. "Chris hit the ball right there. It was a great throw. It was a good play, well executed. It was perfect."
Ocean City took momentum, getting the ball back on downs on EHT's next possession. However, Curran threw an interception on Ocean City's next drive. Miller picked it off and ran back a 45-yard touchdown to make it 13-7.
"We started real slow and came out weak again," said Miller, who had 49 rushing and 52 passing yards. "We woke up at halftime, though. We were real pumped up in the second half. We have to come out like that in the first half."
Curran did it again midway through the second quarter. The Red Raiders were lined up on the 5-yard line. He threw the ball to the far left corner to Andrew Fiorentino on a fade route. There was no one around Fiorentino, and he hugged the ball to take a 14-13 lead.
"We've been priding ourselves on our defensive backfield, and we got exposed a little bit," Miller said. "There were some blown assignments, and we can't let that happen again."
Ocean City surprised EHT a bit with its passing game. The Eagles gave up just two defensive touchdowns in the six games leading up to Friday night. They gave up two to Ocean City but never backed down.
The Red Raiders had 200 passing yards compared to just 24 rushing yards. The EHT defense contained the running game and shut it down completely in the second half.
"All the seniors said, 'We've got to go. We are 6-0, and we have to go to 7-0,' " EHT junior Stephan Thomas said. "Tejay (Johnson) had a good speech. Zach Agostino had a real good speech. It made us want to step up."
Contact Susan Lulgjuraj:
Egg Harbor Township 7 6 8 7 - 28
Ocean City 7 7 0 0 - 14
EHT-Miller 5 run (Mason kick)
OC-Curran 4 run (Curran kick)
EHT-Miller 45 interception (kick failed)
OC-Fioretino 5 pass from Curran (Curran kick)
EHT-Agostino 2 run (pass good)
EHT-Johnson 64 run (Mason kick)
TEAM STATS EHT O.C.
First downs 11 14
Rushing 233 24
Passing 52 199
Turnovers 2 1
Rushing-Miller 13-49, Thomas 4-15, Johnson 6-84, Agostino 10-85 EHT; Bryce 4-2, Curran 15-3, Fiorentino 1-2, Schultheis 8-17 OC.
Passing-Miller 3-6-1-52 EHT; Curran 16-26-1-200.
Receiving-Marquez 1-36, Thomas 2-16 EHT; Fiorentino 5-35, Coccodrilli 6-124, Grande, 2-30, Schultheis 1--2, Snow 2-12 OC.
RECORDS-EHT 7-0; Ocean City 2-4