Doug Ryan, who was not required to overexert himself in the South River High School football team’s season opener, more than made up for that limited workload in Saturday’s 28-3 victory over Metuchen.
The junior running back carried 21 times for 207 yards, returned an interception 75 yards for a score and turned a swing pass into a 27-yard touchdown reception as the undefeated Rams won their second straight.
“He’s outstanding,” Metuchen coach Bob Ulmer said of Ryan. “He’s one of the top backs I’ve seen in a while. He carries on that tradition with South River’s running backs. I just think he’s a different type of back. The kid’s a horse with great balance. The kid is really fast. The last guy I’ve seen that could do that kind of damage was (Highland Park’s) Nate Smith.”
Metuchen (0-2), which was only outgained 263-261 in yards from scrimmage, played much of the game without the tandem of fullback Andre Corvil and Zyhier Powell, both of whom were banged up. In their stead, Stephen Walsh was the feature back, rushing 16 times for 67 yards.
“Did it make a difference?” Ulmer said of his backfield injuries. “Absolutely. But give South River credit. I think we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties (many false starts), and turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble) killed us. We’re a good team making too many mistakes.”
Unlike last weekend’s drubbing of Highland Park, during which Ryan carried just six times -largely because South River raced out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter – Metuchen showed more resistance and trailed just 7-3 at halftime.
South River coach Rich Marchesi, who felt he got a little too fancy offensively before the intermission, returned to South River’s strength on the first series of the third quarter.
Ryan capped the 13-play, 62-yard march that consumed eight minutes, four seconds, bulling his way into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown plunge and a 14-3 lead.
“We talked about it at halftime,” Marchesi explained. “We wanted to come out and establish the line of scrimmage a little bit more than we did in the first half. I think we did too many fancy things. We went two tights most of that drive and we went power down here (near the end zone). We said, ‘We’ve got to get this one.’ We used up (almost) nine minutes of the clock. That was huge.”
South River (2-0) extended its cushion to 21-3 on Ryan’s 65-yard scoring jaunt with 7:03 left in the contest.
Ryan thwarted a Metuchen drive on the ensuing possession, returning an interception 75 yards to produce the final margin. He ended his day with 243 yards from scrimmage, a far cry from the Highland Park game, during which he rushed for 65 yards on six carries and returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a score.
“Last week he had six carries and we had a pretty good first half against Highland Park,” Marchesi said. “We worked on getting him the ball in different situations – out in the slot, motioning him in and out of the backfield and just kind of getting our blocking schemes up a little bit tighter up inside – and he had a hell of a game.”
SR – Ryan 27 pass from Darrar (Correia kick)
M – Firgau 23 FG
SR – Ryan 1 run (Correia kick)
SR – Ryan 65 run (Correia kick)
SR – Ryan 75 interception return (Correia kick)
PASSING: SR – Darrar 2-3-1-36, Lepore 0-1-0-0; M – Nicolaisin 6-17-2-71, Firgau 2-4-1-43.
RUSHING: SR – Ryan 21-207, Suydam 2-minus 9, Darrar 2-0, Ciesielski 6-40, Lepore 1-minus 11; M – Corvil 4-16, Walsh 16-67, Stern 1-6, Firgau 4-46, Powell 3-12.
RECEIVING: SR – Ryan 2-36; M – Briggs 4-57, Collier 3-51, Verlaque 1-6.