In a battle between two State Championship programs, The Rumson Fair Haven Bulldogs defeated the Matawan Huskies 17-0. Rumson made it very clear that they are a serious contender for the Class A Central crown. The team was itching to get back on the field. “We have been waiting since the bye week to get back into action. It felt really good to get back out there and play the game”. added Rumson Fair Haven Quarterback Michael O’Connor.
The first game of the season was highlighted by a punishing defensive unit that led the way. You could really see the intensity level on every play. The teamcame on to the field with a chip on their shoulder. The high energy level was something that Matawan could not match. Rumson played this game like it was their last. “I think we just came to play from the start. We knew what we had to do to win. We continued to execute our gameplan the entire time”. said Rumson Junior Linebacker Mike Ruane.
Overall, the Bulldogs limited Matawan to only 47 yards of total offense. What is even more incredible, is that only 12 were on the ground. The defense dropped Matawan Quarterback Jake Burlew for a total of six sacks. Liam Adams dropped Burlew two different times. Mike Ruane, Butchie Clark, and James Melia also had sacks in the game. Burlew could never find any kind of comfort in the pocket.
As a team, the Huskies turned the ball over three times. “Our Defensive Coordinator did a great job with the gameplan, dialing up the blitzes at the right time. Max Pfrang and Mike Ruane set the tone. Mike Murdock came up and hit people. Butchie Clark was all over the place. It was a total team effort”. added Rumson Fair Haven Head Coach Bryan Batchler on the defensive performance.
Offensively, Rumson Fair Haven got off to a great start with the new spread offense. Quarterback Michael O’Connor continued to rack up the yards again. O’Connor rushed for 117 yards on 14 carries, and a score. The Junior also finished 3/7 with 32 passing yards and a touchdown. O’Connor ran the offense with ease and kept the team in control.
It was a 44 yard run by O’Connor that would setup the first scoring drive. O’Connor took the ball on a keeper and found running room through the middle. The Junior nearly took it all the way to the house before being caught from behind inside the Matawan 8 yard line. This would set up a 21 yard field goal by Thomas Chapin. Rumson drew first blood on the kick with a 3-0 lead.
From there, the turnovers would begin for Matawan. The Huskies would drop the ball on a screen pass. Mike Caruso was in the right place at the right time and came up with the ball. This would give Rumson Fair Haven possession inside the Matawan 22 yard line. Caruso once again demonstrated how instinctive he can be on the field.
Mike O’Connor would waste no time, going right after the Matawan secondary. O’Connor made a very sharp throw into the arms of Wide Receiver John Kingdon. Kingdon came down with the ball inside the five yard line. The Bulldogs were threatening again. O’Connor would finish the drive by pounding the ball into the end zone from the 1. Just like that, Rumson had built a 10-0 lead.
Rumson would keep the momentum rolling in the second quarter. O’Connor once again ran the offense with expertise. He found running room on the option, hitting the open field for a 28 yard gain. After that, the Quarterback used his arm to connect with Elijah McCallister for a 16 yard touchdown play. McCallister at 6’6″ was easily able to get beyond the Matawan Secondary. He is nearly impossible to cover. “It’s awesome to have a big target like Elijah down in the end red zone. He is only a Sophomore, and we are very excited about what he brings to our team”. said Michael O’Connor.
In the second half, Matawan would pick up a little bit of momentum. At this point, The Huskies were just hoping to get anything going. The Huskies were able to force Rumson into a 4 and out inside the 18 yard line. Matawan sacked Michael O’Connor on 4th and 6 to keep Rumson from adding more points.
That would be the only opportunity Matawan would receive. Linebackers Max Pfrang and Mike Ruane were sensational, both finishing with over 10 tackles. Mike Murdock had a key interception. Mike Caruso was flying around the field. 17 points was all the Bulldogs needed to close this one out.
This was a tremendous way to open the new season. “Great football game. We said we were going to come out here and beat Matawan, and that’s what we did. We took care of business. Now we move on to Monmouth next Saturday. Monmouth is a good football team. Let’s get back to work tomorrow, and get ready.” added Head Coach Bryan Batchler who addressed his team after the game.
The Bulldogs will continue their quest for a Class A Central title. They will play on the road against the Monmouth Falcons next Saturday. The Falcons opened the season with a 40-13 victory over Holmdel. They are a surprising team that will present a challenge.
People on Rumson Road will have plenty to celebrate about tonight, but Bryan Batchler will keep his team focused. The coach understands that the team must take a one game at a time approach. Every week will bring the kids closer to achieving their goals. This team will fight their way up the rankings throughout the season.
After the game, Ryan Wydra and Jim Rosa had a chance to catch up with Head Coach Bryan Batchler, Quarterback Michael O’Connor, and Linebacker Mike Ruane.
PASSING: Rumson Fair Haven: Michael O’Connor 3-7-0-32, Matawan: Jake Burlew 8-14-1-35.
RUSHING: Rumson Fair Haven: O’Connor 14-117, Vecchiarelli 23-75, Hess 5-25, Hull 1–3 Matawan: Phillip 7-31, Ramcheran 3-15, Burlew 8- -34.
RECEIVING: Rumson Fair Haven: McCallister 1-16, Kingdon 1-12, Hull 1-4. Matawan: Ramcheran 3-6, Pierce 2-19, Phillip 2-4, Shaw 1-6.
RFH – Chapin 22 yard field goal.
RFH – O’Connor 1 yard run. (Chapin kick)
RFH – McCallister – 16 yard pass from O’Connor. (Chapin kick)
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All videos and pics are courtesy of Jim Rosa