The bid of Rumson-Fair Haven to return to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II championship game for a third year in a row vanished Friday night under the flying feet of Weequahic senior tailback Akrum Wadley.
The speedster rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns including a game-changing 78-yard scoring sprint down the right sideline in the second quarter.
The run wiped out a three-point Rumson lead and helped send the third-seeded Bulldogs to a 13-10 defeat at Borden Stadium,
“We knew this would be a tough first round matchup,” said Rumson coach Shane Fallon. “It turned out to be just what we expected. It’s just that we thought we would be on the other end of the scoreboard. So, (it was) disappointing.”
Rumson (7-2) lost leading rusher and a linebacker Travis Clark to a foot injury in the first quarter.
“Clark is the heart and soul of our team,” Fallon said. “He does everything for us offensively, defensively and on special teams. Losing him certainly hurt. He did everything he could to try to come back.”
Without him, senior quarterback Danny Roberto threw for 155 yards and his 1-yard sneak in the fourth quarter pulled Rumson within three points with 7:07 remaining.
Rumson regained possession on its own 30 with 4:38 remaining, but three plays gained only five yards and Roberto’s fourth-down pass was picked off by Weequahic junior cornerback Yusef Williams.
Rumson took a 3-0 lead on a 20-yard field goal in the first quarter by junior Jake D’Amelio.
But in the second quarter, it took just one play for Wadley to gather in a pitchout, turn the corner, and vault sixth-seeded Weequahic (7-2) up 6-3.
“Coach (Brian Logan) told me to put the team on my back,” Wadley said after the Indians, the second-place team in the Colonial Division of the Super Essex Conference, advanced to the sectional semfinals.
“My right tackle (Nasir) Lovejoy told me he was going to open it up for me,” Wadley said. “So I just cut off him. After that it was up to me.”
Weequahic drove 72 yards in 12 plays to begin the third quarter to widen its lead to 13-3.
“They went right at us,” Fallon said. “Certainly not what we needed.”