Rumson-Fair Haven knew it would be challenged all evening by St. John Vianney’s aerial attack.
But the Bulldogs’ defense rose to the challenge and grounded the Lancers 21-7 in a Class A Central victory on Friday. Rumson, No. 6 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10 poll, overcame some sloppy play and penalties to improve to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in A Central.
“Our defensive coordinator Jerry Schulte always does a fantastic job coming up with effective game plans and mixing things up,” Rumson coach Bryan Batchler said. “And our guys did a tremendous job executing the plan.”
The Bulldogs got off to a slow start on offense as they went three-and-out on their opening possession of the game. Vianney (1-1, 0-1) took over at their own 46 and quarterback Billy DeMato went to work. The Lancers drove to the Rumson 24, but the Bulldogs’ defense held on downs and gave the offense some momentum.
Starting from its own 24, Rumson proceeded to march 68 yards on eight plays, seven of which were on the ground. On second-and-7 from the Lancers 8, running back Charlie Volker took a pitch from quarterback Brian Dunphy, raced around the right side, and dove into the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 1:09 left in the opening quarter.
The Rumson defense got the ball back quickly for the offense, forcing a short punt by Vianney. Dunphy and the offense took over at the Lancers 30 and extended the lead just four plays later. Dunphy lofted a pass into the corner of the end zone that was tipped by a defender, but receiver Sam Shaud was able to haul it in for a 14-yard score and 14-0 advantage just three minutes after the first touchdown.
The Bulldogs continued to keep the pressure on and looked like they would go up by three touchdowns later in the second quarter. Rumson had first and goal at the Vianney 6 when Dunphy handed off to Jamie Reeves, who headed towards the end zone, but the Lancers’ Julanee Prince stripped the ball away and ran it out to the 21.
The turnover seemed to jump-start the Vianney offense and DeMato began connecting with his arsenal of receivers. With 35 seconds left in the half, DeMato found Prince on a post pattern for a 33-yard score to cut the deficit in half, 14-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, Rumson fumbled and Vianney recovered at the Bulldogs 37. The Lancers now had an opportunity to even the score, but Rumson held on to the 14-7 lead at halftime.
“We had some issues with fumbles and penalties, but we were able to overcome them,” Batchler said. “We settled down and our offensive line was strong throughout.”
Volker took advantage of his line’s excellent play by rushing for 209 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown on the night. But it was the defense that won this game. DeMato was able to throw for 234 yards, but the Rumson defense harassed him all game, sacking him eight times and applying pressure many other times.
“They have an explosive offense and their quarterback may be the best in the (Shore) Conference,” said Batchler. “They have a lot of good athletes on the team. Our defense did an outstanding job in a tough spot.”
Rumson closed out the scoring midway through the fourth quarter by driving 51 yards in 7 plays, capped by a 1-yard plunge by Dunphy to make it 21-7.