The South River High School football team made a big defensive stand late in the fourth quarter and the Rams held on to a 21-13 victory over Middlesex on Saturday.
South River, now 6-1, started off slow against Middlesex, trailing 6-0 at halftime because of two fumbles in the first quarter and three turnover-on-downs in the second, which ended up stalling all of their offensive production.
“We didn’t have a good week of practice,” Rams head coach Rich Marchesi said. “We had a little letdown all week. We are going to need to practice a hell of a lot better next week for an undefeated club (Spotswood). I talked to them at halftime; sometimes you can’t turn it on and turn it off when you want, you got to have a great week starting Tuesday.”
After going down 13-0 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Rams went back to the ground-and-pound running game with feature back Doug Ryan. With just over four minutes left in the quarter, Ryan took the ball 37 yards into the end zone, the first of his three touchdowns. Ryan had 26 carries for 243 yards in the game.
“We knew we had to come out in the second half,” Ryan said. “We knew we could beat them. We should have been able to crush them, but sometimes you just have an off week.”
After scoring again with 41 seconds left in the third quarter on a 51-yard run, and early in the fourth from 15 yards out, Ryan put his team up for good, it was the Rams’ defense which then put an end to any Midddlesex comeback.
With under one minute left, the Blue Jays were driving into Rams territory. On a third-down play, Blue Jays quarterback Brandon Bollin, who was feeling pressure all day, scrambled to the right, away from the rush of Richard LeoGrande. Bollin attempted to throw across his body, but Marcio Correia came up with the game-clinching interception.
Now the Rams will prepare for undefeated Spotswood with the division crown at stake.
“That’s the game we always look forward to every year,” Ryan said. “This year it’s way bigger because it’s for a division title.”
“I saw them a couple times, they are a real fine football club,” Marchesi said of Spotswood. “It’s going to take a good week of practice to get ready for them.”
M – Brady 43 yard pass to Brower (extra point failed)
M – Bollin 20 yard run (extra point good)
SR – Ryan 37 yard run (extra point good)
SR – Ryan 51 yard run (extra point good)
SR – Ryan 15 yard run (extra point good)
RUSHING: SR- Ryan 26-243, Ciesielski 3-27, Suydam 2-3, Lepore 1-2. M-Brady 12-54, Hode 4-19, Bollin 8-83
PASSING: SR- Lepore 5-10-0-46. M- Brady 1-1-0-43, Bollin 2-5-1-23.
RECEIVING: SR- Darrar 2-29, Alston 2-16, Ryan 1-2. M- Brower 2-56.