Senior Klimek leads Donovan to win

Senior Klimek leads Donovan to win

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Senior Klimek leads Donovan to win

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LAKEWOOD

Monsignor Donovan senior running back Grant Klimek stayed on the field as a safety whenever his team switched to defense Saturday. He handled kicking, punting and kickoff duties. When bothered by a Charley horse early in the game against Lakewood, he limped back to the huddle, then was back at 100 percent when the ball was snapped.

“Grant’s a warrior. He’s never off the field,” said Donovan coach Dan Duddy. “He can play at the next level just on sheer determination. He’s one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached.”

Klimek’s showcase performance – where he scored a touchdown, an extra point, kicked a field goal, and also registered a safety – helped will Donovan to a come-from-behind 18-14 victory over Lakewood in a Shore Conference Class B South game.

The Klimek touchdown came with 2:10 left in the game, wiping out a 14-12 Lakewood lead.

Lakewood started the second half ahead 14-7 but Donovan replied with an inch-by-inch rally in the third quarter, getting a safety and a field goal, both registered by Klimek.

Klimek said versatility is his strong suit and demonstrated his knowledge of football history, saying, “I’m like Paul Hornung. If they want me to do everything, I’ll do everything.”

It wasn’t a one-man show for Donovan (1-0, 1-1), which had been smarting from an opening-week 40-0 loss to St. John Vianney. Linebacker Tommy Farrell recovered a fumble to set up the decisive possession, and Farrell and 6-2, 200-pound lineman Andy Ullmann both came up with a number of key stops.

“We just defensively came up with big plays and snuffed out their momentum,” Duddy said. “If I had the money, I would have bought t-shirts with last week’s date on it (to mark the St. John Vianney loss). That was going to be something that either crushed us or forced us into a decision on what direction we’re going to go. We moved in the right direction today. At halftime we decided to win it. We won the last 24 minutes. We believe this will be a catalyst.”

Lakewood played without defensive standout and Division I prospect Tyrice Beverette, who is also a quarterback. Coach LJ Clark said he held out Beverette to be cautious after Beverette struggled with leg cramps in last week’s heat when Lakewood beat Freehold.

Sophomore Chapelle Cook filled in at quarterback and the team seemed headed to its first 2-0 start since the 2002 team started that season 5-0. Cook completed 7 of 18 passes for 113 yards but was picked off twice.

Lakewood’s special teams were a factor in the first half. Donovan had a 7-0 lead on Connor Hanifan’s 23-yard run but Lakewood senior Tyron Wemberly answered with a 79-yard TD kickoff return, and Lakewood got the ball again when senior Alex Martinez recovered his team’s kickoff down the field amid some confusion on Donovan’s kick-return unit.

Amir Tyler eventually scored on a 2-yard run to give Lakewood a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Then came the unusual five-point rally by Monsignor Donovan in the third quarter.

Klimek sent up the safety with a 53-yard punt that pinned Lakewood at its 2. Lakewood’s Wemberly threatened to bust a right-side pitch outside but Klimek made a superb 1-on-1 tackle in the end zone.

Monsignor Donovan pushed to the Lakewood 10 on the ensuing possession but settled for a 27-yard Klimek field goal, cutting the deficit to 14-12.

Klimek’s go-ahead touchdown run helped push his rushing total for the day to 102 yards.

Donovan made it to the playoffs last season but the St. John Vianney loss and the early deficit to Lakewood made the idea of repeat postseason look iffy.

Now, anything is possible, said Klimek, adding, “We came back. We didn’t give up.”

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