As the second quarter got under way, the Rumson-Fair Haven offense was still trying to feel out a Holmdel defense that had yet to yield a point this season.
Then, trailing 6-0 and facing a third-and-7 from the Holmdel 47-yard-line, senior quarterback Danny Roberto rolled right and launched a deep pass down the middle that junior Sam Shaud hauled in for a 41-yard gain.
It was the spark the Bulldogs needed, igniting a 20-point outburst before halftime en route to a 27-6 victory in a Class-A Central showdown at Borden Stadium.
By game’s end, Roberto had thrown three touchdown passes, including a pair of senior John Ryan, while the Bulldogs’ defense held the visitors scoreless over the final three quarters.
“They took some things away from us,” said Rumson coach Shane Fallon, “and I thought Shaud going down the seam and splitting the safeties, and Roberto seeing him and hitting him, was big.”
Five plays later it was Roberto connecting with Ryan on a 2-yard TD toss to even matters at 6-6 with 8:09 left in the second quarter.
“After we hit the long pass, they started to back off and give us a lot more cushion,” said Roberto, who threw for 177 yards. “Their safety was playing 15 yards off the receiver and we hit the hitch pattern a bunch of times.”
The Bulldogs (3-0, 2-0) got the ball back in good field position with 3:48 on the clock following a 30-yard punt return by Michael Clarke, and needed just two plays to cover 45 yards, as Roberto fired a 30-yard scoring strike to Ryan to increase their lead to 13-6.
Holmdel was whistled for a roughing the kicker penalty on the extra point, and after kicking off from the Hornets’ 45-yard-line the Bulldogs recovered Jake D’Amelio’s onsides kick at the 27.
From there they needed just three plays to score their third touchdown of the quarter, as sophomore running back Charlie Volker pounded his way in from eight yards out with 1:59 left in the half.
Roberto closed out the scoring with 6:18 left in the game when he found tight end Henry Rosenberg down the middle on a 16-yard touchdown pass.
“We made enough mistakes that we’ll have to have a good week of practice,” said Fallon, whose team committed seven penalties and turned the ball over three times. “Holmdel is s scrappy team. Now we have to get ready for Red Bank.”
Holmdel (2-1, 0-1) opened the scoring when senior quarterback Robbie Cantelli connected with sophomore receiver Jeff Harris on a 16-yard scoring strike.