If and when a kicker misses a short field goal, the kicker may be shaken and the coach may lose confidence. That line of thinking, apparently, does not apply to Rumson-Fair Haven head coach Shane Fallon and junior kicker Jake D’Amelio.
With the Bulldogs trailing Shore Regional in a Shore Conference nondivisional game on Friday evening Fallon went back to D’Amelio, who calmly booted a 29-yard field goal as time expired to tie the game at 10. On the first possession of overtime D’Amelio’s 36-yarder proved to be the difference as the Bulldogs defeated the Blue Devils 13-10 at Borden Stadium.
The win was Fallon’s 100th, as he opened his 15th season at the helm of his alma mater.
“We have a lot of confidence in him, whether he makes it or misses it it doesn’t matter,” Fallon said of D’Amelio, who had missed a 21-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.
“He’s a kid who doesn’t feel pressure. He could be kicking a game winning field goal in a state final or an extra point, he treats it the same. He’s a kid who handles pressure very well.”
After D’Amelio made it 13-10 in overtime, the Rumson defense capped a monster second half by only yielding one yard on Shore’s overtime possession. After Jack Kelly ran for one yard up the middle, the Bulldogs forced three incompletions by Matt Muh to seal the game.
Rumson entered the fourth quarter having not scored a point in its last 11 quarters dating back to last season’s 21-0 defeat at the hands of Red Bank Catholic in the team’s annual Thanksgiving game.
That streak also included a 3-0 loss to Matawan in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II final. That streak came to an end as the fourth quarter began.
After forcing a Shore three-and-out early in the period, senior quarterback Danny Roberto engineered a seven-play, 83-yard drive culminating in a 25-yard strike to junior wide receiver Melquan Reevey. D’Amileo’s extra point helped Rumson cut the deficit to 10-7.
The teams traded three-and-outs over the next combined three possessions before Rumson embarked on the drive that tied the game.
With Rumson starting at their own 42, Roberto threw three straight incomplete passes to set up a must have fourth-and-10. Roberto then dropped back, scrambled, and tossed a Hail Mary toward the left sideline. Junior wide receiver Sam Shaud came down with the ball, dragged his foot in bounds, and kept Rumson’s hopes alive at Shore’s 24.
The moment was especially sweet for Shaud after he dropped what would have been a sure touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that would have pulled Rumson within three.
“We have a lot of kids stepping in here for the first time tonight, we saw a lot of nerves and a lot of jitter,” said Fallon.
“There were some uncharacteristic penalties, some drops, some missed tackles, things that we haven’t seen in practice. We kept going back to those kids and we’re going to keep going back to those kids.”
Six plays later, at the 13, Roberto dropped back, could not find a receiver, and scrambled for one yard. With Rumson not having a timeout, D’Amelio rushed on the field and kicked his game tying 29-yard field goal.
Shore took a 10-0 lead with 7:21 to go in the third quarter when Muh hit Erik Joyce with a 39-yard touchdown pass over the middle. After the ensuing kickoff, the game was delayed a state mandated 30-minutes when lightning was seen in the distance.