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Middle looks to finish strong after missing playoffs

Middle Township football coach Frank Riggitano addresses his team after a 6-0 loss to Pleasantville.

Middle Township football coach Frank Riggitano addresses his team after a 6-0 loss to Pleasantville. The Greyhounds had been averaging 41 points per game entering the contest.

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – The Pleasantville High School football team entered Friday’s game against Middle Township averaging 41 points per game. The Greyhounds had scored 66 points in a rout of Gloucester Catholic one week earlier.

They got just six against Middle.

But still won the game.

Mohamed Toure’s 53-yard run – Pleasantville’s only real big play of the game – set up Toure’s two-year touchdown run one play later for the game’s only scoring as the Greyhounds escaped with a 6-0 victory and qualified for the South Jersey Group II playoffs.

Middle Township (3-5) was eliminated from playoff contention.

Middle will play a consolation game Thursday at home at 6 p.m. against Delran.

“I have no doubt that if we play like we did (against Pleasantville) then we’re going to win our last two games and finish 5-5,” Middle coach Frank Riggitano said.

Middle, still shorthanded due to a variety of injuries, played its best defensive game in quite a few seasons in limiting the high-powered Greyhounds (7-1). The Panthers sacked quarterback Sahmir Jones five times and for the part held Toure in check.

Middle even had a chance to go ahead in the contest late, using 12 plays to drive to the Pleasantville 6-yard line with less than five minutes to play. But two rushes that netted minus-two yards, an incomplete pass and a sack ended the threat.

“I really thought we were in great shape when we got it down there and I really thought we were going to punch in it,” Riggitano said. “We had such a great drive and then we had a couple lapses and it cost us.”

Karl Giulian ran 15 times for 69 yards. He was most effective on Middle’s long fourth-quarter drive, running five times for 43 yards on the possession. David Hayes added 61 yards rushing on 18 carries. Cameron Hamer completed five passes for 55 yards.

“This one hurts,” Riggitano said. “It was easy to tell how bad the kids wanted to win. That’s a (Pleasantville) team that scored 66 points last week. To hold them to six points, we just played phenomenally on defense.

“Hopefully we can build some momentum off of this and finish strong.”

— Brian Cunniff