Having scratched and clawed their way back into their NJSIAA Central Group II semifinal matchup with top-seeded Rumson Fair-Haven, the players and coaches associated with Rahway football found themselves locked in a tie game with 0:22 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The game appeared destined for overtime.
With Rumson holding possession of the ball at their own 20-yard line, many would’ve thought the Bulldogs would sit on the ball, take a knee and prepare for the extra frame.
But Rumson junior tailback Charlie Volker took a handoff over the right side and raced 80 yards, scoring with 0:06 left in regulation, and took with him the hopes and dreams the Indian faithful may have had of winning a sectional title in 2013.
When the clock struck zero, the Bulldogs had defeated the fourth-seeded Indians, 28-21, at Borden Stadium in Rumson on Friday night.
“I’m shocked,” said Rahway coach Gary Mobley while his players wept on the sideline. “There is no other way to say it. I’m absolutely shocked. I did not expect for them to end the game like that. I thought we were going to have a shot in overtime. We made a nice fourth-quarter comeback, our special teams kept us in the game. You have to give all the credit to Rumson. They’re a championship-caliber team.”
Volker, who entered the game having already rushed for 1,653 yards, finished his evening with 316 yards on 32 carries and three touchdowns, scoring from 8, 55, 71 and 80 yards out, respectively. He accounted for all of the Rumson (10-0) scoring.
“My fullback was able to give me a nice little lane to run through,” Volker said, describing the game-winning run. “I swatted a defenders hand away and got a nice downfield block by one of our receivers and I was able to cut it up.”
Trailing 21-7 entering the fourth quarter, Rahway (7-3) was in desperate need of a play, a turnover, something to allow them back into the game. With the Bulldogs faced with a fourth-and-nine from its own 29, the Indians caught a break on special teams.
A botched snap rolled all the way to the Rumson 1-yard line, giving the Indians a chance to cut it to a one possession game.
Three plays later it was senior Jeffery Bost on a quarterback sneak closing the gap to 21-14 with just under 10 minutes remaining.
After Rahway stuffed Volker on a fourth-and-one, the Indians were set up with great field position at their own 46-yard line trying to tie the game.
On their first play of the drive, Bost connected with wideout Thorne Roberts for 37 yards all the way down to the Bulldog 18and, just like that, the Indians were in business.
A couple of false start penalties combined with a sack set the Indians up with a fourth-and-11 from the Rumson 17-yard line.
Scrambling around in the pocket to bide time, Bost found Roberts streaking across the back of the end zone with 3:14 remaining as the Indians tied it at 21.
Rahway would force Rumson into a three-and-out on its next possession and received the ball at midfield after the Bulldogs punted it away.
However, they were unable to move the football and punted it back to Rumson, setting up the Volker heroics.
R – Gross 1 run (Torres kick)
RFH – Volker 8 run (Kelly kick)
RFH – Volker 55 run (Kelly kick)
RFH – Volker 71 run (Kelly kick)
R – Bost 1 run (Torres kick)
R – Roberts 17 pass from Bost (Torres kick)
RFH – Volker 80 run (Kelly kick)
RUSHING: RFH – Volker 32-316, Shaud 1-33, Zohn 1-5, Caruso 3-(-5); R – Gross 11-28, Bost 11-23, Raymond 4-6, West 1-6.
PASSING: RFH – Caruso 5-7-0-68; R – Bost 9-18-0-87.
RECEIVING: RFH – Reevey 1-39, Lyons 2-7, Shaud 2-22; R – Roberts 2-54, Stradford 3-28, Reyes 3-5, Raymond 1-0.