Limited to three carries in the first half, Delbarton’s Robbie Arancio was a workhorse after the intermission.
The senior ran for 95 of his 140 yards in the second half with 21 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead Delbarton (8-1) to a 21-16 victory over Pope John yesterday. The victory was the eighth in a row for Delbarton after its season-opening loss to Paramus Catholic.
“Execution was the key against them,” Arancio said. “We knew what our game plan was and we knew that we had to out there and execute it. We knew that we could run the ball against them and the offensive line did a heck of a job.”
Arancio’s 5-yard run with 4:02 left in the third quarter run capped a 65-yard, 13-play drive to open the second half that gave Delbarton a 14-7 lead. Pope John (8-1) closed to within 14-9 with 18 seconds to play in the third quarter when Noa Merrit blocked Matt Oplinger’s punt deep in Delbarton territory. Oplinger alertly recovered the loose ball and ran out of the back of the end zone.
Arancio continued to pound it out on the ground for Delbarton and scored on a 4-yard run with 4:32 left in the game to give the Green Wave a 21-9 advantage.
“Robbie ran real hard today,” Delbarton quarterback Guiseppe Bevacqua, who was 7 of 9 passing for 38 yards and a touchdown, said. “We don’t expect anything less from him. Robbie helped us establish the run game, and then we knew the passing game would follow. The guys up front gave a great push.”
Arancio’s running keyed a strong start to the second half to help turn the tide in Delbarton’s favor.
“All year long, we’ve been stressing that we have to come out firing right from the third quarter, and that’s exactly what we did,” Bevacqua said. “The third quarter has been our biggest quarter all year.”
Arancio carried seven times on Delbarton’s opening drive of the second half and Bevacqua fired a 19-yard pass over the middle on a fourth-and-two to Ian Lodge to put the ball on the Pope John 13. Three plays later, Arancio’s 5-yard run provided Delbarton with a 14-7 lead.
“On that play, the defense came down on Op (Oplinger) and so, I saw Lodge and he was wide open,” Bevacqua said. It was a huge fourth down conversion when we needed it.”
Pope John gathered impetus after the safety and brought the ensuing free kick down to the Delbarton 33. But on fourth and five, Pope John quarterback Sonny Abramson was brought down by Tom Lenz and Patrick Bray to end the drive. Delbarton took possession and went 69 yards in 14 plays with Arancio running over from the six with 4:32 to play to give Delbarton a 21-9 advantage. Bevacqua fired another key pass to Lodge, a 10-yard gain on a third and three that brought the ball to the Pope John 6-yard line.
Pope John closed to within 21-16 with 2:01 to play when Abramson threw his second touchdown pass of the game, a 7-yard fade to Ryan Izzo. But Pope John took the ensuing kickoff at the Pope John 43 and was able drive to the 10-yard line before turning the ball over on downs with 2 seconds to play. Abramson’s last ditch pass to Noah Brown was fumbled and resulted in no gain.
“They had some momentum after the safety and they drove down to our 30,” Bevacqua said. “But we faced the adversity and overcame it and that led to our victory. We didn’t allow the momentum to swing their way.”
Nick Esposito finished with 147 yards rushing on 22 carries.
“Whatever we do, it starts with us running the ball and Robbie Arancio is a horse back there,” Delbarton coach Brian Bowers said. “He’s been doing it for us for three years and he’s just so good. Joe Johnson and Andrew Sanders ran well for us too and Guiseppe Bevacqua really made some big plays in big spots for us.
“In the first half, we only ran a total of 13 plays and we really weren’t able to get Robbie into a rhythm. We work in practice on putting kids in stressful situations, but when it comes down to is, we have to make big plays in the game. I was very proud of how our guys handled it today.”
D — Matt Oplinger 39 pass from Guiseppe Bevacqua (Jonathan Schaible kick)
P — Noah Brown 6 pass from Sonny Abramson (Davyn Sevean kick)
D — Robbie Arancio 5 run (Schaible kick)
P — Safety, Matt Oplinger runs out of end zone
D — Arancio 5 run (Schaible kick)
P — Ryan Izzo 7 pass from Abramson (Sevean kick)