CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – The Middle Township High School football team lost a one-possession game to Gloucester Catholic Friday evening.
In a game in which it turned the ball over five times.
The Panthers fell to 2-3 with the 20-12 loss and now will almost certainly need to win at least two of their remaining three games prior to the sectional playoff qualification cutoff in order to play in the postseason in Group II.
“They didn’t stop us,” Middle coach Frank Riggitano said. “We stopped ourselves. But give them credit. We didn’t have a lot of big plays. It’s hard in high school football — any level of football, really — to go eight, 10, 12 plays on a drive and score without making mistakes.”
An interception and a fumble by Middle led to Gloucester Catholic (3-0) scoring the game’s first two touchdowns.
Danny DeAngelis connected with Dameal Rudolph on a 25-yard scoring pass three plays after Nick Nocella’s interception midway through the first quarter.
Early in the second period, following a Middle fumble, Dashaun Harris ran around the left side for a 51-yard score, giving the Rams a 13-0 lead.
“After what happened last week (a 40-14 loss to Buena) and then to go down 13-0 right out of the chute, our kids could have quit but they hung in there,” Riggitano said. “We played hard and kept battling.”
Middle drove from its own 20-yard line to the Gloucester Catholic 15-yard line on its next possession, only to throw an interception in the end zone. But the Rams were stopped after three plays and a penalty and Karl Giulian blocked the punt, which was recovered by Middle at the 7-yard line. Giulian ran it in from there on the next play.
Middle got to within a point at 13-12 with 4:45 left in the third quarter on Giulian’s 25-yard touchdown run. Runs of 13 yards by Seth Loeffler and eight yards by David Hayes highlighted the seven-play, 55-yard drive.
Gloucester Catholic responded, however, using 14 plays and almost seven minutes of clock before scoring on a one-yard run by Harris on fourth down.
Middle threw interceptions on its final two possessions, the last sealing Gloucester Catholic’s victory with 1:10 remaining four plays after a near-miraculous 19-yard run by Cameron Hamer on a fourth-and-15 play momentarily kept the team’s hopes alive.
“I felt like we did pretty much what we wanted to do,” Riggitano said. “But it was little things time and again that hurt us. But we’ll keep working and keep polishing and we’ll be OK.”
Middle travels to Triton next week.
— Brian Cunniff