The Rumson Fair Haven Bulldogs defeated the Lakewood Piners 30-14 in a Shore Conference Non-Divisional game. This was about as unorthodox of a contest as you could possibly imagine. It was just one of those games that did not reflect the score. Both teams combined for 15 total penalties, while turnovers occurred on both sides of the ball. However, it does not matter how you get the job done. A win is a win, and Rumson was able to get that today.
In a half where Rumson was held to -1 yard rushing, Quarterback Michael O’Connor was able to get into a rhythm to lead the way. A big part of O’Connor’s game has always been his ability to run the ball out of the read option, but today the Junior was showcasing his arm. O’Connor completed his first eight passes for 89 yards as the Bulldogs built a 21-0 halftime lead.
“The passing game is vital. People are going to load the box. It does not matter how good you are running the football. You don’t want your kids taking too many shots. We have to be balanced to win games. We will throw the ball if you make us, but if you’re going to sit there and give us a box that we like, then we’re going to run the football, added Head Coach Bryan Batchler.
The Quarterback wasted no time finding Running Back Bryan Hess for a 26 yard completion. Sophomore Elijah McCallister hauled in a pass on 2nd and Goal from the 15 yard line to score the first touchdown with 4:16 left in the First Quarter. McCallister has been very consistent for the Bulldogs all year long.
“That catch Elijah made in the end zone was the best I have seen him make in two years of football. He is a special kid that is getting better and more comfortable, added Bryan Batchler again.
O’Connor also put together another great scoring drive. The Junior completed a 17 yard pass to Wide Receiver Lachlan Hull. Elijah McCallister also contributed again with a 12 yard grab to put the Bulldogs in scoring position. Rumson finished the series as O’Connor found John Kingdon for a 15 yard scoring strike.
“Mike can throw the football better than people think. Temple University really liked him enough that they decided to take an interest in him as a Quarterback prospect and that really meant a lot to me. He will continue to get better. It’s just a matter of continuing to develop his mechanics, stated Bryan Batchler on his Quarterback. The Rumson defense wasted no time making their presence felt. Overall, the team held Lakewood Running Back Amir Tyler to just 30 yards on 13 carries. Tyler was having a lot of trouble finding running room throughout the day. Quarterback Zyhier Jones was also held to only 6 yards on 10 carries. Jones could not get comfortable as the outside lane was closed off. Mike Ruane was flying to the ball, piling up 14 total tackles on the day. Ruane and Griffin Feinberg each contributed with a sack for the Bulldogs.
Mike Caruso made one of the biggest plays of the game in the Second Quater, stalling a Lakewood drive. The Piners moved the ball from their own 30 all the way to the Rumson 5 yard line. A holding penalty pushed the ball back to the 15. On the next snap, Linebacker Mike Ruane charged through the line on a blitz. The pressure caused Caruso to pick off a Zyhier Jones pass at the Lakewood 13 yard line. The defender put the burners on, taking off for an 87 yard interception return for a score. This gave Rumson a 14-0 edge.
“That was the perfect blitz which was drawn up by our Defensive Coordinator. We had watched film all week and were prepared to play. I got to the Quarterback, and Caruso was right there to get the ball, added Linebacker Mike Ruane.
After trailing 30-0, it was the athletic ability of Amir Tyler who would make this one look respectable. Tyler continues to prove why he is one of the best athletes in the State. Tyler intercepted an O’Connor pass and raced 25 yards for a touchdown. Tyler used his instincts to anticipate the play.
Tyler was also able to contribute offensively with one of the best catches of the year. This was definitely Calvin Johnson style for sure! Lakewood Quarterback Zyhier Jones threw a bullet from the 18 yard line. Amir Tyler leaped into the air and came up with a one handed grab to score the second touchdown for the Piners. This is the athletic ability that makes Tyler such a dangerous player. After converting the PAT, Lakewood trailed 30-14 late in the game.
Rumson improves to 5-1 on the season and remains only one game behind St John Vianney in Class A Central. The Bulldogs are also a serious contender in the Central Jersey Group III bracket. Lakewood drops to 6-1 after suffering their first loss. They will look to rebound and are on a collision course with Pt Boro for the Class B South title.
“The goal remains the same. We wanted to be 1-0 at the beginning of the season. We also want to be 1-0 in December. We won’t get to 1-0 in December unless we do all the little things right. We have to get back to work this week and fix our mistakes”, added Rumson Head Coach Bryan Batchler after the game.
RFH – Elijah McCallister – 15 yard pass from O’Connor ( Chapin kick)
RFH – Mike Caruso – 87 yard interception return ( Chapin kick)
RFH – John Kingdon – 15 yard pass from O’Connor ( Chapin kick)
RFH – Thomas Chapin – 34 yard Field Goal
LW – Amir Tyler – 25 yard interception return. ( PAT failed)
RFH – Bryan Hess – 7 yard run. ( Kick failed)
LW – Amir Tyler – 18 yard pass from Jones. ( 2 Pt Conversion)
Passing: RFH – O’Connor 9-11-102-1, LW – Z Jones 6-15-1-95.
Rushing: RFH – Vecchiarelli 17-59, Hess 9-29, O’Connor 8-20, Hull 1-13. LW – Tyler 13-30, Z Jones 10-6, Cobbs 2-7, Fisher 1-0.
Receiving: RFH – McCallister 4-37, Hull 2-15, Hess 1-26, Kingdon 1-15, Ruane 1-13. LW – Palmer 2-51, Hunter 1-19, Tyler 1-18, Richardson 2-22, Jones 1-21, Cobbs 1-5.
Stay tuned to NJSR for all your recaps throughout the weekend. The Shore Conference Power Rankings for Week 8 will be out on Tuesday!