POINT BEACH — “Point Beach Football is back.”
Those are the first words Joseph Zaccone said to the Beach supporters following a 28-7 opening-season win against Manville on Friday, Sept 6. The Garnet Gulls proved the first-year head coach’s statement to be true by earning 135 yards of total offense, blocking three punts and shutting out the Mustangs in the second half.
“We talked about winning at every phase and tonight they did,” Zaccone said. “Having 11 men as one tonight, it was a beautiful thing.”
Senior running back Liam Buday carried the ball 17 times for 101 yards and three touchdowns. Although Buday shined in his senior debut, his effort was one of many that contributed to Beach’s first win since Nov. 17, 2017.
On the very first play, Beach showed it was not the same 0-9 team from a year ago. Senior Brandon Castronova got his hands around a Manville player for a two-yard loss. The Gulls forced a three-and-out before blocking its first punt of the game.
Buday then capped a five-play offensive drive with a three-yard touchdown up the middle. Beach led 7-0 with 7:34 left in the first quarter. It was just the start.
The Gulls blocked another punt on the next drive, followed by a 25-yard touchdown from Buday.
“Every kid on this team knows they have a roll,” Zaccone said. “We talk about winning the day, winning the moment and they won each moment tonight.”
Manville did answer back with a 49-yard touchdown run by quarterback John Sharbaugh in the second quarter. The Gulls took away any momentum the Mustangs had going when Castronova recovered a blocked punt by Jason Sherlock for a touchdown late in the third.
Beach shutout Manville’s offense in the second half, taking away any signs of a comeback from its opponents.
“When we went into the locker room at halftime, we knew we were a second-half team,” Conway said. “To get a shutout and know we can do it from here on out, it’s big.”
The Gulls move to 1-0 on the season and return home next week for its first National division game against Keansburg on Friday, Sept. 13.
Beach has come a long way since last season. There are nine more regular-season games remaining for the Gulls to keep proving that. It’s not the end, but it’s a start.
“We wanted to prove people wrong really bad this week, people were saying we wouldn’t have a football team a few months ago and here are beating Manville,” Buday said. “This is probably one of the biggest games of my life.”
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