Everything Rumson-Fair Haven coach Shane Fallon had preached to his team during the week came to fruition on Friday night at St. John Vianney.
“They were all juiced up and jacked up in pre-game,” Fallon said. “They were hooting and hollering and fired up, Vianney was. We told our kids all week in practice, that’s exactly what we expected. They gave it to us.”
Rumson-Fair Haven, ranked No. 8 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10, showed early in the Shore Conference Class A Central game it had been there and done that when it comes to playing in big games. The Bulldogs scored two touchdowns, 13 seconds apart in the first 2:44 of the game and three TDs in the first 12:23 of the game and went on to record a 35-13 win.
“I told our kids, ‘This is business. Go on the road, be focused. You’re not playing the game until the opening whistle. You’re not playing the game until the opening whistle. You’re going to play the game mentally in pre-game, but not physically and don’t be emotionally drained,’ ” Fallon said. “They were all fired up, Vianney was. We felt that would be to our advantage. We felt the first quarter would be key.”
Senior quarterback Danny Roberto, who threw for 142 yards and three TDs of 30 yards or more, got the Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0) off to a flying start when when he hit a wide-open Melquan Reevey with a 33-yard TD pass on Rumson’s third play from scrimmage. That TD came after the Rumson defense forced a three-and-out on the Lancers’ first possession.
Then, on the first play of St. John Vianney’s second possession, the ball was snapped over junior quarterback Billy DeMato’s head. After a scramble, senior defensive tackle John Greeley’s fell on the ball in the end zone for a 14-0 Rumson lead.
Roberto said Rumson wanted to show everyone it was a better team than the one that had to rally late to beat a solid Shore Regional team, 13-10, in overtime last week.
“We wanted to set the tone,” Roberto said. “We were hungry. “We were hungry to prove to the rest of the Shore (Shore Conference) that we’re not some soft team that’s going to beat everyone 13-10.
“Last week was tough because it was a lot of people’s first varsity game. Everyone matured as the week went on. It was a big week for us.”
Rumson made it 21-0 when senior defensive back Michael Clarke scored on a dazzling 63-yard punt return 23 seconds into the second quarter. Clarke made about 3 or 4 cuts on the return and juked several would-be tacklers.
Clarke became the punt returner this week after senior running back Conor Walsh was sidelined for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
“Clarke’s been begging us all pre-season, ‘Put me deep. Put me deep, Put me deep.’ ” Fallon said. “He’s a lacrosse kid. He’s a great athlete. You saw the juke (on Friday night). He stopped on a dime and made a great move. Not many kids can do that.”
The Lancers (1-1, 0-1) pulled within, 21-7, when DeMato (292 yards passing) hit Julanee Prince with a 26-yard TD pass. St. John Vianney had a chance to move within seven in the final seconds of the half, but it threw four consecutive incomplete passes from the Bulldogs’ 18 in the final 19 seconds of the half.
Rumson put the game away in the second half as Roberto fired TD passes of 38 and 30 yards to John Ryan sandwhiched around a 1-yard run by Eric Gomez.