Facing a rapid-fire pistol offense, the Vineland High School football team virtually had no shot to defend itself Friday night.
The Hermits turned the game into a track meet and Calvin Cass was the star, sprinting his way for 237 yards and six touchdowns during a 48-6 rout over the Fighting Clan at Stephen LaRosa Field.
Vineland (1-2) will try to catch its breath and get ready for next week’s road game against Middle Township.
The Fighting Clan will have a bye week Oct. 5.
St. Augustine’s no-huddle offense kept moving at a lightning-quick pace, slicing its way through the Vineland defense, which appeared to be a step behind the entire evening and looked tired by the second half.
“We just tried to fill the holes as quick as we can, but it was tough,” linebacker Jaquon Ledbetter said. “They moved quick and kept things going all the time.”
The Hermits tallied a season-high for points, scoring their seven touchdowns on drives consisting of 7, 5, 2, 3, 1, 6 and 8 plays.
St. Augustine (3-0) built a 35-point lead by the third quarter, evoking the mercy rule, which kept the clock running the remainder of the game.
Vineland saw its sputtering offense continue to misfire against St. Augustine. The Fighting Clan accumulated 115 yards with just 46 coming on the ground.
“We’re juggling a lot of kids around on offense, not just at the quarterback position, but all over the place,” Vineland coach Josh Hedgeman said. “It’s tough to get that consistency that we need, but we will get it.”
“We’re 1-2 right now,” the coach said. “We’re not in panic mode. I’m a competitive person and it doesn’t feel good to lose, especially like this, but we’re trying to build off each week. This game is over. We have to get ready for Middle Township.”
The Hermits scored on both of their opening two drives, needing just three minutes to cover 118 yards. The result was a quick 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
Vineland had trouble matching up with St. Augustine’s beefy front line, anchored on the right side with Mike McGrath (6-5, 285) and Dean Dunleavy (6-3, 285). The duo helped open up big holes for Cass, who rushed for 164 yards and four TDs in the first half. He even got into the passing act, firing a 20-yard pass to quarterback Alex Hughes on a trick play.
Vineland’s best defense was actually its offense in the first half.
The Fighting Clan put together back-to-back-to-back possessions, holding the ball for close to 12 minutes starting in the middle of the first quarter.
The only interruption was a one-play St. Augustine possession that ended with a Ledbetter interception.
Vineland put together its best drive of the season with a 10-play, 61-yard scoring drive, culminating with Ledbetter’s 6-inch plunge into the end zone on a fourth-down play.
St. Augustine aided the drive with five penalties (four offsides and one late hit), but Vineland’s movement gave the team a much-needed spark that got brighter when Lance Bryant pounced on the kickoff.
When Vineland couldn’t keep up the pace, St. Augustine capitalized as its offense went back to its quick-strike production.
The Hermits needed just two plays, both Cass runs for 72 yards, to score their third touchdown of the night.
At the end of the half, they used a three-play drive to move 62 yards for a touchdown and a 28-6 lead at the intermission.
Cass finished with 16 carries and with his 237 yards, which were his second highest total in three games this season (he had 252 last week against Lower Cape May), and went over 1,000 yards for his career.
“I was following my blockers, the holes were open just like there are in practice, I just did what I was told,” Cass said.
Vineland played without the services of sophomore Isaiah Spencer, who had four touchdowns in the first two games.
Spencer re-injured his left hand on the opening kickoff and didn’t see the field again.