First-year head coach Chris Damien is hoping to build a serious football program at Keansburg.
On Saturday afternoon, the Titans took their first step in that direction.
Junior running back Joey Rodriguez ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries and senior Kason Preston racked up 185 total yards and two touchdowns to help Damien notch his first career victory, 41-6, over Highland Park.
“I got here and there were a lot of things that needed to be cleaned up,” said Damien. “We had a lot of younger guys who had never played. Our first game, we had four guys with varsity experience, so coming into Game 5, it was good to put something together finally and get the first ‘W’ of the season. We put together a great week and we got results.”
The Titans put the Owls away with 21 unanswered points in the second quarter.
Up 7-6 midway through the second, quarterback Arkeyel Brown hit Preston streaking down the left sideline for a 51-yard touchdown. When the Owls fumbled the ensuing kickoff, junior Dylan Alt fell on the loose ball to regain possession for the Titans.
Two plays later, Rodriguez broke off a 28-yard touchdown run to put the Titans up 21-6. In the final minute of the first half, Rodriguez took a keeper nine yards to extend the lead to 28-6.
Rodriguez had 101 of his 114 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in the first half. He also made a key defense play at the end of the first quarter that prevented the Owls from taking the lead. When Jabril Giannotti took a reverse 50 yards up field and deep into Titans’ territory, Rodriguez chased him down and stripped the ball from behind just outside the end zone. Preston picked up the fumble.
“It was just an effort play by a kid who did a great job all day,” said Damien. “Rodriguez coming all the way across the field to knock the ball out. Plays like that are a huge momentum plays. It’s a huge momentum swing and that really started to catapult us.”
“We just wanted to go in and play hard, fight as a team and get out first ‘W’ for the seniors who are leaving this year and for our coach, and that’s what we did,” said Rodriguez. “It feels pretty good.”
In the third quarter, Keansburg forced a turnover-on-downs in their own territory. On the following play, Preston took a handoff to the right, broke out of a tackle and sprinted the rest of the way across the field for a 70-yard touchdown. Preston finished with a game-high 134 rushing yards on 14 carries.
In the fourth quarter, Rodriguez took a screen pass from Brown 19 yards and into the end zone to cap the scoring for the Titans. Rodriguez also put Keansburg on the scoreboard in its first drive of the game when he took a handoff 13 yards untouched and into the end zone.