Barnegat senior Andrew Vernieri had the game of his life Friday night in West Long Branch and he did it in a single half.
Vernieri, a 6-foot, 185-pound wide receiver, owned the second half against Shore, scoring the decisive touchdown on a wildcat run and intercepting two passes — the second one at the Barnegat one yard line with 12 seconds remaining. Vernieri also intercepted a pass on the final play of the first half stopping a Shore march at the Barnegat 25 yard line.
Barnegat improved to 2-0 with a heart-stopping, 20-13, victory over Shore (1-1). It was Barnegat’s fourth-straight win over the Devils.
“I’ll be smiling in my sleep,” Vernieri said. “I’ve never had a game like that.”
Vernieri, who plays wide receiver on offense most of the time, but in short yardage spots, he is the feature back in Barnegat’s wildcat set.
“If you’re a Vernieri, you’re tough,” said Barnegat head coach Rob Davis. “We like to use different players to attack the defense is short-yardage situations.”
Vernieri capped a 10-play, 80-yard march on Barnegat’s second possession of the third quarter with a decisive, against-the-flow cut running right.
He saw say daylight, put his foot in the ground and plowed through Shore defenders just before the goal line.
“I have to give credit to my offensive line,” Vernieri said. “I just saw the hole open and I hit it.”
Barnegat played most of the second half without 1,000-yard rusher Nik DiLeo on offense. DiLeo, who was suffering from cramps, had 91 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He did play the majority of the second half on defense.
Vernieri picked off his second pass six plays into the fourth quarter. He jumped the route being run by Shore’s 6-foot-4 wide receiver Chris Kessler and snuffed