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Jan 02, 2020

Red Bank Football Closes Season with Holiday Classic Victory

By Les Pierce

Buc quarterback Jack Chamberlain (3) hands off to running back Makai Mickens (1).

This year marked the 97th Thanksgiving Day game between the Red Bank Buccaneers and the Long Branch Green Wave football squads. Itโ€™s one of the oldest high school holiday rivalries statewide. Regardless of the records of the two teams, winning this one is paramount.

The outlook appeared gloomy early on for the host Bucs when Long Branch put up the initial points in the first quarter. The Wave set up the tally when quarterback Kyle Davidson pitched to Jayon Farrar on an option. Farrar then launched an aerial that found Ba-Sean Fraser well ahead of the secondary, and he cruised in for the score.

The Wave flubbed the snap on the ensuing extra point. However, holder Christian Rodriguez alertly scooped up the ball, ran to his right and fired a pass to Alexander Aviles in the end zone for a two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.

At that moment, Long Branch appeared to be a team blessed. However, the Wave would ultimately never score again for the balance of the contest. Meanwhile Red Bank responded with three unanswered touchdowns for a 21-8 victory.

The Buccaneers saw an opportunity surface when a Long Branch punt was blown backward by a 30-mile headwind to the Brancher 25-yard line. On the third play of the following series, halfback Makai Mickens scampered 14 yards through traffic and dove into the corner of the end zone with 4:34 remaining in the second quarter.

Later in the second quarter, Red Bank drove 41 yards for their second touchdown of the day. The trek concluded with a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jack Chamberlain to wide receiver AJ Abarno, who made a diving catch under heavy coverage. The 14-0 advantage held up to the halftime break.

Abarno would be a factor again, this time on defense when he intercepted on the Waveโ€™s first drive of the second half. The turnover enabled the home team to drain the clock. The final Buc points of the contest came on a 14-yard pass from Chamberlain to Gordon Ogden.

Long Branch now leads the 97-year-old rivalry by a 62-32 advantage with three renditions ending in a tie.