Just over a month ago, things were looking very tough for the Matawan football program. The injury bug was really becoming a factor. Sophomore Quarterback George Pearson was sidelined with a calf injury. Running Back Makiya Caesar was battling injuries. Throw in an offensive line that was nicked up and it was going to be difficult to get off to a good start. This would all lead to three consecutive losses to open the season. The team knew they would have to answer to push for a playoff spot.
Today, the situation is looking much better. George Pearson is back in the lineup and showing off his big arm and athletic ability. Makiya Caesar is powering his way for the tough inside yards. Shawn Mancheran and Jake Burlew are making the big catches in the open field. It is this explosive offense that has helped the Huskies respond with four straight wins after beating Manasquan 30-27 this afternoon.
“We never put our heads down after being 0-3. We knew we had to work hard and stay on top of everything in practice. It was just a matter of going to work everyday and getting better. That’s what we’ve done over the past five games, added Quarterback George Pearson.
It was the young Quarterback who put on a show with his arm today. Pearson was very accurate, completing 11 of 15 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Pearson hit Aliem Shaw, Makiya Casear, and Shawn Ramcheran all for scoring strikes. The young signal caller looks to be in rare form and ready for prime time. This is just the time of year when you need him to be at his best.
Makiya Caesar likes to go by the name of “Beast Mode”. You watch his running style and it is no surprise that he is influenced by the great Marshawn Lynch. Caesar tore through the Warriors defense for 180 rushing yards on 23 carries. 78 of the 180 yards came on the final drive of the Fourth Quarter, setting up a game winning field goal by Adam Elliot. Head Coach John Kaye knows that he can put the game in the hands of Caesar. Caesar has always been consistent.
“Makiya was clutch for us. After breaking for 20 yards on the first play of the drive, he kept telling me to feed him the ball. He is such a competitor and will do whatever it takes to win”, said George Pearson.
The First Quarter was a little tough for the Huskies. After being able to hold Manasquan for the three and out, the Special Teams was able to make a play by blocking a punt. However, it was Manasquan Linebacker Jack Mallet who would come up wiith the ball. Mallet came out of the pile and took off down the sideline. It wasn’t until Mallet got inside the opposing 20 yard line that he was even noticed.
Manasquan would take advantage of the situation. Quarterback Liam Grieb dropped back and hit Nick Jamie for a 20 yard reception to put the Warriors inside the 1 yard line. Paul Krueger took the handoff, and just like that the Warriors were out to a 6-0 lead. This was not the start that Matawan could have wanted.
Leave it to George “Big Play” Pearson to motivate his team to come back. Pearson would roll to his right side and find Tight End Aliem Shaw for the screen. Shaw made the catch with absolutely no one around him, and took the ball 75 yards down the sideline. No lead is safe when you have a Quarterback like Pearson under center!
Pearson would go back to work in the Second Quarter by putting together a 60 yard scoring drive. The Sophomore found Junior Wide Receiver Jake Burlew across the middle for a 25 yard gain. The Huskies had a lot of success using a balanced attack with the big arm of Pearson and inside running of Caesar. Running Back Derrick Wiley would finish the series with a 12 yard touchdown run. The Huskies would hold the 14-6 edge heading into the locker room at halftime.
There are no amount of words to describe how big the acquisition of Parker Day has been for the Manasquan Warriors. Day came to Squan after spending his sophomore year at Toms River North. Parker has ascended to the top of the depth chart and the offense just goes through him. It was the hard running of Day that would get the Warriors back into the contest. Day put the after burners on, sprinting for a 76 yard touchdown that would knot it up at 14 in the Third Quarter.
But once again, you can never get comfortable with the Matawan offense coming back on the field. It would only take Matawan 2 plays to reclaim the lead. A 13 yard run from Mikaya Caesar put the Huskies at midfield. This gave Matawan the perfect opportunity to air it out again. George Pearson went to Caesar in the passing game, hitting him in the open field. Caesar raced 50 yards to the end zone with no one in sight to put Matawan back on top 21-14.
The Huskies and Warriors would continue to go back in forth. Parker Day hit the end zone from 46 yards out and was well over 150 yards at this point. Pearson threw his third touchdown of the day, finding Shawn Ramcheran for a 37 yard play. Manasquan Quarterback Liam Grieb responded with a 49 yard bomb of his own. Kyle LeBlanc got beyond the Matawan defense and forced the 27-27 tie.
Head Coach John Kaye had a decision to make before getting the ball back. Kaye could utilize Pearson to get down the field quickly, or he could go to the running game to try and put together a scoring drive while killing the clock. Kaye chose to go with the hard nosed running of Makiya Caesar. Casear would ultimately work through what I will call “The Drive”.
On the first play, Casear found a hole through the middle of the defense and burst right through for a 24 yard gain. Caesar followed that up with runs of 6, 3, and 9 yards. The clock was continuing the run, and you could see that the Warriors were becoming gassed. You would think that any coach would change up the playbook at this point, but not in this case.
Coach Kaye went straight to his most reliable back who would ultimately go “Beast Mode” on the Manasquan Warriors. Caesar would go 78 yards on just 8 plays to put the Huskies inside the 1 yard line with just 4.3 seconds left. It’s the old simple concept here, If they can’t stop it, keep running it. That’s exactly what the Huskies did to set up the game winning Field Goal.
Kicker Adam Elliot came on the field only to have his first attempt iced. A holding penalty against Matawan would force Elliot to rekick. Finally, from 25 yards out, Elliot drilled the field goal in the middle of the upright to give Matawan a 30-27 lead.
Just when you think it’s time to get out of dodge, a penalty would give Manasquan one last chance. The players actually began to leave the field after the kickoff return was stopped and they all had to reset. Liam Grieb took a shot at a Hail Mary which fell incomplete, and the Huskies had the Class A Central victory.
Matawan improved to 5-3 on the season and look to be in very good shape for the playoffs. Central Jersey Group III will be a very challenging bracket with Rumson Fair Haven and Red Bank Regional also being in the hunt, but this is definitely a different Huskies team than the one we all saw at the beginning of the season.
“Sometimes you have to go into hostile territory. Even when things kicked us in the face, we stepped up and found a way to get it done. Let me tell you what, the easiest thing was to get down when things were tough, but we just kept fighting back. I’m proud of the character of the Dawgs today! They showed up right here and faced adversity”, added Head Coach John Kaye after the win.
“I am really happy for our team. We came together as a family over the past five games. Coach called on me today, and I knew I could do what was needed to get down the field. We will keep working hard by studying film, and getting ready for the playoffs”, said Mikaya Caesar.
Manasquan dropped to 3-4 on the year and only have a remote shot at the postseason. However, Parker Day continues to impress the entire Shore. Day finished with 220 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns in the loss. The Warriors will go on the road to face No 2 St John Vianney.
NJSR had a chance to catch up with Mikaya Caesar after the game.
Passing: MT – Pearson 11-15-2-236, MS – Grieb – 4-9-2-99.
Rushing: MT – Caesar 23-180, Phillip 2-20, Pearson 2-6, Wiley 1-12, Ramcheran 1-3. MS – Day 22-220, Krueger 16-40, Morgan 2-6.
Receiving: MT – Ramcheran 3-56, Burlew 3-28, Pierce 2-19, Shaw 1-75, Caesar 1-50, Beukers 1-8. MS – LeBlanc 2-79, Jamie 2-20
MS – Paul Kreuger 1 yard run ( Kick Failed)
MT – Aliem Shaw – 75 yard pass from Pearson. ( Elliot Kick)
MT – Derrick Wiley – 12 yard run. ( Elliot Kick)
MS – Parker Day – 76 yard run. ( Meyer Kick)
MT – Makiya Caesar – 50 yard pass from Pearson. ( Elliot Kick)
MS – Parker Day – 46 yard run. ( Meyer Kick)
MT – Shawn Ramcheran – 37 yard pass from Pearson. ( Kick Failed)
MS – Kyle LeBlanc – 49 yard pass from Liam Grieb. ( Kick Failed)
MT – Adam Elliot – 25 yard field goal.
Stay tuned to NJSR for all your scores throughout the weekend!