LOWER TOWNSHIP — Middle Township High School won the 24th edition of the Anchor Bowl, defeating Lower Cape May Regional 21-0 on Thursday.

The Panthers scored three touchdowns in the second quarter and their defense blanked the Tigers to win for the 15th time in the annual Thanksgiving game.

“We played OK,” said Middle Township head coach Frank Riggitano, who acknowledged that both teams struggled to move the ball in windy conditions. “We had a good week of practice. It’s just really hard to get the kids ready to play after not playing for three weeks.”

Middle Township finished the season 5-5 and leads the Anchor Bowl series 15-9. Lower Cape May finished the season 2-8.

Middle’s defense contained Lower’s senior running back Jonas Lumbruno all game, holding him to 30 yards rushing. Lumbruno finished the season with 995 rushing yards, despite a concerted effort by the Caper Tigers’ coaching staff to get him the ball in the last quarter.

The final quarter was marred by turnovers and more than a half-dozen penalties, including multiple unsportsmanlike conduct flags on both teams.

The officials ran out the last few seconds of the game with Lower in possession of the ball after the Tigers got a first down and flags were thrown.

“It’s just the kids in the neighborhood bantering back and forth,” Riggitano said. “It’s unfortunate because they have to learn to get together and coexist.”

Panthers junior running back Charlie McNeal III ran for a 5-yard touchdown with 8 minutes, 12 seconds left in the second quarter for the game’s first score. The run capped an 18-play drive by Middle. The ensuing two-point conversion was stopped.

On their next possession, the Panthers scored on the first play from scrimmage when senior quarterback RJ Tozer connected with senior wide receiver Matt Marino for a 44-yard strike. After a successful two-point conversion by Tozer, Middle had a 14-0 lead with 5:09 left in the half.

Following a turnover on downs after Lower failed to convert a fourth-and-23, Middle took over at the Tigers 25-yard line. A delay-of-game penalty pushed the Panthers back 5 yards, before junior quarterback Kenderson Cardaci found the endzone on a 30-yard keeper. A successful point after attempt gave Lower a 21-0 lead with 1:58 in the quarter.

Lower’s defense stopped Middle from scoring again before halftime, denying the Panthers from getting into the endzone from the 1-yard line with 3 seconds on the clock.

Middle Township 0 21 0 0 — 21

Lower Cape May 0 0 0 0 — 0

SECOND QUARTER

MT — McNeal III 5 run (2-pt no good)

MT — Marino 44 pass from Tozer (Tozer 2-pt)

MT — Cardaci 30 run (kick good)

Records — Middle 5-5; Lower 2-8.

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Contact: 609-272-7222

ddanzis@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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