It seemed a given that Rumson-Fair Haven junior running back Charlie Volker, the Shore Conference’s leading rusher, would get the call with the Bulldogs needing one yard to take the lead late in the fourth quarter against Manasquan.
Instead, it was Volker himself who suggested another option.
Senior fullback Dylan Zohn plowed into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal with 54 seconds left to lift the No. 3 Bulldogs to a 22-15 victory over the No. 5 Warriors in a Class A Central game Friday at Borden Stadium.
The win likely will give Rumson (8-0, 5-0) the top seed in the NJSIAA Central Group II playoffs, which start next week. Manasquan (6-2, 4-2) will likely be the top seed in South Group III.
Both teams experienced a playoff-like atmosphere one week early in a closely contested game throughout. With the game tied at 15, it was the Bulldogs who took advantage of one key mistake that set up the game-winning score when Bulldogs cornerback Sam Shaud recovered a Warriors fumble and returned it to the Manasquan 9 with 2:34 left.
“I just saw the ball and I was at the right place at the right time,” Shaud said.
One play later, Zohn ran a dive 7 yards to the 1. After Volker was stopped for no gain on third down, the Bulldogs called timeout and Rumson coach Bryan Batchler and his staff decided to give the ball to Zohn, who punched it in for a touchdown and a 22-15 lead after Connor Kelly kicked the extra point.
“Every team keys on Charlie,” Zohn said. “The fact that our offensive line gets such good of a push and the coaches have enough trust in me, it’s awesome to know that. We got it in and we won the game. It’s something that everybody dreams about.”
“Coach came up to us and said, ‘What play do you guys want to run?’ ” Volker said. “And I yelled, ’22 Wedge’ and everyone was yelling different stuff, but we ended up doing 22 Wedge because we have the faith in Dylan and we knew he could get it in the end zone. We’re not really a tricky team. If we get something going, we’re going to keep pounding it. I was so excited when he got in there. It was great.”
On its previous series, Rumson drove 84 yards in 10 minutes before missing a 26-yard field goal.
“At the end of the day I said if we can’t get a yard we don’t deserve to win,” Batchler said.
Volker made an interception at the Rumson 37 with 21.9 seconds left to clinch the win.
Rumson rallied from a 15-7 halftime deficit with Volker getting 98 of his 132 rushing yards in the second half. The Bulldogs tied it at 15 with a 67-yard drive as Volker ran for 63 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown, and quarterback Chase Caruso threw to receiver Billy Lyons for a 2-point conversion with 4:39 left in the third quarter.
Manasquan dominated the first half after Rumson took an early 7-0 lead on Volker’s 12-yard touchdown run. The Warriors followed with a 16-play, 67-yard drive that included two fourth-down conversions and finished with senior quarterback Tucker Caccavale’s 9-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Tanner Cowley to make it 7-7.
Manasquan took a 15-7 lead when Caccavale threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Joe Fittin, and Fittin threw a 2-point conversion pass to Blaine Birch with 1:56 left before halftime.