SOUTH RIVER Arkeyel Brown scored a pair of rushing touchdowns, but made his biggest play of the day on defense, stripping South River’s Mario Nigro of the ball at the goal line and recovering it in the end zone to preserve an 18-13 victory for the Keansburg High School football team on Saturday afternoon.
South River (0-4) got the football with 3:02 left after Ian Terry put the Titans in front by five and drove it down to the 17 of Keansburg. Nigro, who threw for eight yards, caught an 8-yard pass and ran for 36 yards on the drive, appeared to be on his way into the end zone for the winning score, but Brown tracked him down from behind and stripped the senior of the ball, giving the Titans (1-3) their first win of the season.
“I saw him going to the right and I saw him break one tackle, so I figured he was already on his way down and I just tried to rip it away from him,” Brown said. “That was an amazing feeling to recover the ball and get this win.”
Brown had scored Keansburg’s first two touchdowns of the game, racing 71 yards up the middle late in the first quarter and 27 yards with 1:35 left in the third stanza on his way to finishing with a game-high 155 yards on 21 carries.
But after Terry’s touchdown put the visitors in front, Keansburg head coach John Bird thought he might have given South River too much time.
“I was a little worried, not in our guys, but that South River had the ball with so much time. We were hoping to give them the ball back with very little left,” Bird said. “But at the end of the day, my guys worked harder than they have all season this week. It took a little bit of time for them to gel with me taking over, but this is positive step. They were ready for the situation and it proved itself today.”
The Titans were put to the test by South River on a day where the field conditions deteriorated and the weather worsened as the game went on.
“We went away from our offense just a little bit,” Bird said in regards to the weather affecting his team. “That last touchdown drive, we just had Arkeyel and Ian run the ball and hand it to each other and our offensive line got a push and we got into the end zone that way.”
Nigro finished with 128 rushing yards on 25 carries, was 4-8 for 53 yards passing and hauled in one pass for eight yards. He was the main source of offense for the Rams, scoring their second touchdown of the day just 30 seconds after Brown’s 27-yard jaunt.
But on the final possession, Nigro lost the grip of the football on the goal line, coming up just one yard short of a dramatic scoring play.
South River’s first touchdown of the game came when freshman Michael Desantis found Kareem Wilson for a six-yard score in the final minute of the first half. Desantis was 1-2 passing for those six yards and the touchdown. Khaliyl Everett rushed 10 times for 27 yards as a change-of-pace option for South River.
KEANSBURG (1-3) 6-0-6-6 — 18
SOUTH RIVER (0-4) 0-7-6-0 — 13
K–Brown 71 run (run failed)
SR–Wilson 6 pass from Desantis (Desantis kick)
K–Brown 27 run (pass failed)
SR–Nigro 2 run (kick failed)
K–Terry 3 run (kick failed)
Passing – K: Terry 0-1-0, Vital 0-1-0; SR: Nigro 4-8-53, Desantis 1-2-6.
Rushing – K: Brown 21-155, Vital 6-31, Terry 7-14, Castell 2-6; SR: Nigro 25-128, Everett 10-27, Hart 1-7.
Receiving – K: None; SR: Pacheco 2-21, Everett 1-21, Wilson 2-17, Nigro 1-8.