LINWOOD — From blocked kicks to defensive takeaways and touchdowns, the Ocean City High School football team made plays in every facet of the game to defeat Mainland Regional 21-14 in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs Saturday.

The win, coming eight days after O.C. fell 21-6 to the Mustangs in the “Battle for the Bridge,” was the seventh-seeded Red Raiders’ first in the postseason in 18 years.

The 7-2 Red Raiders will play at sixth-seeded Long Branch on Friday.

“I’m so proud of the way we rebounded from the early adversity, being down 7-0,” Ocean City coach Kevin Smith said. “And more so, the way we were able to scrap and keep them out of the end zone (at the end of the game.”

Trailing 21-14, the second-seeded Mustangs almost tied the game on the first play of their final drive.

Senior quarterback Zack Graziotto connected with senior receiver Dan Misa on a post pass, and Misa immediately pitched it back to Jake Cook. The 6-foot, 2-inch senior ran down the sidelines, made a defender miss with a juke move and got tackled at the 10-yard line.

Two plays later, Graziotto threw to senior JaQuan Mace at the 5-yard line. Mace was stood up by defenders 3 yards shy of the goal line, and O.C. junior lineman Will Drain stripped the ball. Senior lineman Chris Armstrong, whose nickname is “Cookies,” fell on the ball to seal the upset for the Raiders.

“My boy Will Drain stripped the ball out,” said Armstrong, 17, of Upper Township, “and I just jumped on it and pretended it was my baby.”

Special teams played a crucial role in the win. Down 7-6, Ocean City senior running back Jake Inserra blocked a 31-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half.

The Mustangs started with the ball in the second half. Ocean City forced a three-and-out, and sophomore Mike Gray blocked the ensuing punt to set the Raiders up at the 20-yard-line.

Quarterback Joe Repetti found Jake Schneider in the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown pass a few plays later. Junior tight end Brad Jamison made a leaping grab on the two-point try to put the Red Raiders up 14-7.

“The defense is crucial,” said Repetti, 16, of Upper Township. “It just started the rally, and the offense got behind what the defense could do. With the short field and the blocked punt, we put the ball in the end zone, and then we just started scoring from there.”

Repetti had touchdown passes of 6 and 49 yards to Schneider. He also ran for a 33-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw early in the fourth quarter.

Mainland, ranked seventh in The Press Elite 11, took its first loss of the season to drop to 8-1.

Graziotto started the scoring with a 15-yard pass to Mike Ordille in the back corner of the end zone. He later threw a 6-yard touchdown to Misa with 4 minutes, 46 seconds left in the fourth.

According to Smith, the historic win more than made up for last week’s loss to Mainland.

“They can keep that ‘Bridge’ trophy,” he told his team.

Ocean City 0 6 8 7—21

Mainland 7 0 0 7—14

FIRST QUARTER

M— Ordille 24 pass from Graziotto (kick good)

SECOND QUARTER

O— Schneider 49 pass from Repetti (kick fail)

THIRD QUARTER

O— Schneider 6 pass from Repetti (Jamison pass from Repetti)

FOURTH QUARTER

O— Repetti 33 run (kick good)

M— Misa 6 pass from Graziotto

Records— Ocean City 7-2, Mainland 8-1

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