Phil Anastasia: Hammonton grinds down Moorestown, 33-21

Hammonton's Bobby Barbieri (3) hauls in a touchdown pass in front of Moorestown's Sidney Ruffin in the second quarter. The Blue Devils attempted just four passes in the 33-21 victory.
Hammonton's Bobby Barbieri (3) hauls in a touchdown pass in front of Moorestown's Sidney Ruffin in the second quarter. The Blue Devils attempted just four passes in the 33-21 victory. (DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 19, 2011

Pete Lancetta has one thing to say about the spread offense.

"I hate it," the Hammonton coach said. "I think they should outlaw it."

Lancetta was smiling when he said that. He was just kidding. He doesn't really think the pass-happy offensive approach should be banned from the sport.

"Maybe they can let them use it one time a series," Lancetta said.

That's not just a lament by a wing-T guy who loves to run the football. That's also a respectful complaint by a coach who spent the last week trying to figure out a way to defend against that speedy, sophisticated offense.

Hammonton made enough plays on defense to beat Moorestown, 33-21, Friday night in the semifinals of the South Jersey Group 3 tournament.

The second-seeded Blue Devils (9-1) picked off two interceptions and made a pair of goal-line stands in the first half, including one after the Quakers took possession at the 7-yard line with a 14-0 lead.

"That was huge," Lancetta said after his team advanced to face top-seeded Timber Creek (10-0) in the sectional title game Dec. 3 at Rowan University in Glassboro. "Our kids really rose up there."

But as good as Hammonton was on defense, the secret to the Blue Devils' ability to slow the Quakers was on the other side of the football.

Hammonton played great defense with its offense, controlling the line of scrimmage and pounding away with a three-pronged running attack.

In a classic clash of styles, Hammonton's infantry overcame Moorestown's air force.

"They are a pass-happy team," Hammonton senior guard Nate Haden said. "We know we need to run the ball to succeed."

Moorestown, which finished its season with a 6-5 record, made plenty of plays on a cold, clear night on Hammonton's frost-covered field.

Andrew Lisa was 18-for-35 passing for 224 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Delaney Wallace ran for 49 yards and two touchdowns, and Zac Frantz caught a 33-yard touchdown pass that gave the Quakers the 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.

"We knew they were going to move the ball and score points," Lancetta said. "They do such a good job. They spread you out, and they have athletes. Our kids just needed to hang in there."

Ultimately, that's what turned the game in the Blue Devils' favor: perseverance. They got that big stop after a turnover in the first quarter, and they got another one when Jordan Brown tackled Lisa on the 1-yard line on a fourth and goal from the 3 with a minute remaining in the first half.

But mostly, they just relied on their offensive line of seniors Haden and Brian Beebe, junior Pat Fiorentino, and sophomores Brandon Alfonso and Robert Frederico to seize command of the game.

Gradually, that's what happened.

"Once we got behind, we all had to step up," Beebe said.

Hammonton ran for 176 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. The Blue Devils attempted four passes all night.

Brown ran 11 times for 128 yards and a touchdown. Russ Forchion ran nine times for 51 yards and a touchdown. David Williams ran 15 times for 82 yards and a touchdown.

"It was like, 'You're going to play next week or you're done for the rest of your life,' " Haden said of the Blue Devils' urgency.

That's the Hammonton way. Three yards on the ground. Five yards. Three yards.

It takes time. It takes a toll.

Best of all for a certain coach, it keeps a certain opposing offense where it belongs: off the field.

Moorestown 14 0 0 7 - 21

Hammonton 0 13 7 13 - 33

M: Delaney Wallace 8 run (Alex Martinelli kick)

M: Zac Frantz 33 pass from Andrew Lisa (Martinelli kick)

H: Bobby Barbieri 12 pass from Christian Mortellite (kick failed)

H: Alessandro Pandovani 60 interception return (Pandovani kick)

H: Russ Forchion 31 run (Pandovani kick)

M: Wallace 1 run (Martinelli kick)

H: Jordan Brown 41 run (pass failed)

H: David Williams 7 run (Pandovani kick)


Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223, panastasia@phillynews.com, or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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