GLOUCESTER – It was a game in which the opposing defenses dominated, but with one huge exception.
Schalick High School senior running back Tyreese Snipe could be not be contained.
Snipe’s two touchdown runs gave the Cougars a 14-3 win over Gloucester Catholic Saturday in a West Jersey League Classic Division game. With the help of Snipe’s 141 rushing yards on 30 carries, Schalick wrapped up its second straight division crown and clinched a berth in the South Jersey Group 1 playoffs.
“For the past two seasons, he’s been a workhorse,” said coach Seth Brown about Snipe. “He’s one of the most physical runners I’ve every coached. The offense has confidence just knowing, `I’ve got this guy behind me.’”
Snipe scored his touchdowns on a pair of short runs.
His two-yard burst in the third quarter put Schalick on the board for the first time after the teams played throughout a scoreless first half.
He followed that with a one-yard plunge that sealed outcome with 2:13 to play.
He said he was just happy to able to be able to contribute something of value to the team’s victory.
‘‘I just feel pretty good that I was able to help my team,” Snipe said. “All we needed was two touchdowns and it worked out for the best.”
Snipe talked about he enjoys the feeling that his teammates are relying on him in big situations.
“It’s a big responsibility,” he said. “But growing up I always wanted to counted on. If I can be counted on to help the team in anyway possible, whether that’s on the field or off the field, I’m going to do it.”
Gloucester Catholic coach Casey Murphy agreed that Snipe’s contributions were the difference in the game.
“He’s a big-time player,” he said. “Our game plan was built around (what to do) when the ball was going to be in his hands. We said we our plan was to gang tackle `22’ and get hats on him.
“I thought we did a good job on him for a while, but he’s that good. He’s going to find his spots and make his plays.”
The game didn’t start out particularly well for Snipe.
It appeared the Cougars were going to be in a position to score on their first possession of the game. But Snipe fumbled on the one-yard line and the Rams Dameal Rudolph recovered.
“I was down on myself,” Snipe said when asked about the fumble. “I was over-confident. After that I said it’s time to get back down to the basics.”
Schalick had a couple of chances to strike first only to see the Rams stay in the game by forcing two more turnovers – an interception by Dashaun Harris and interception by Mike McAleer on the last play of the first half.
Gloucester Catholic broke the scoreless tie when Nick Nocella kicked a 27-yard field goal to complete the first drive of the second half, but it was all Cougars the rest of the way.
They quickly took the lead at 7-3 driving 65 yards for a score capped by Snipe’s two-yard run.
Then in the fourth quarter, the Cougars played keep-away when they moved 67 yards for a score. They successfully converting three fourth-down plays along the way.
The big one came on a fake punt on a fourth-and-2 play from the Cougars 41-yard line.
Tackle Ryan Fairman took a direct snap and rumbled nine yards out to the 50-yard line with 7:09 to play.
Even though the 6-foot-5 299-pound Fairman said the team has worked on that play in practice, he wasn’t sure what to expect.
“I was nervous, but I was happy,” he said. “I was thinking now is my chance. Honestly, after I got the first down, and said, `I’m scoring.’”
It didn’t happen on that play, but Snipe did carry the ball into the end zone eight plays later.
The touchdown was set up by the Cougars only pass completion of second half when Patrick McCann threw a 17-yard dart for Javon Spann for a 17-yard gain on a fourth-and-five play.
“That was huge,” said Brown. “I thought we threw the ball fairly well but in the second half we decided to rides it about behind No. 22.”
Cougars 14, Rams 3
Gloucester Cath 0--0--3--0----- 3
GC: Nick Nocella 27 FG
S: Tyreese Snipe 2 run (Ethan Long kick)
S: Snipe 1 run (Long kick)