MORRIS TWP. – Watching Mater Dei quarterback Christian Palmer on film can be an enjoyable way for a football coach to spend an evening.
Shutting down and stopping Palmer, that is something totally different.
Morristown-Beard became the latest team to discover that containing the Seraphs starting quarterback is no easy task. Just as seven other teams have learned this season, there are no easy answers and no solutions.
Saturday Palmer completed nine of eighteen passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns and carried the ball 10 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns to lead Mater Dei to a 48-0 victory over Morristown-Beard in a NJSIAA Non-Public Group I playoff game.
The victory improved Mater Dei’s record to 8-2. Mater Dei, seeded fifth, will now play number one seed St. Joseph of Hammonton who had a bye this week.
Last year, Mater Dei made the trip to Morristown and defeated the Crimson 12-7. Coming into Saturday’s game, Morristown-Beard, led by running back Matt McFadden believed that they were ready for the Seraphs this year.
But McFadden was held to only five yards on six carries before being forced to leave the game with an injured left ankle and did not return. Mater Dei shut down Morristown-Beard’s offense shutting out the Crimson and holding them to only 155 yards of offense.
On defense, Morristown-Beard had no answers to stopping Palmer, either on the ground or in the air.
“We watched him on film, and we stopped him on their first drive, when he tried to run the halfback option, but after that, nothing worked for us,” Morristown-Beard Tim Fell said. “He played great for them.”
So what was different for Palmer this year as opposed to last year’s game against Morristown-Beard?
“Everything,” Palmer said. “Our offensive line is bigger and better. We have new players like Quylil Maxwell on defense who dominates on the line of scrimmage and a player like Tyson Stamper who along with Eddie Lewis and Tysaun White gives me another weapon on offense. My line did a great job protecting me and opening up holes for me to run through. They made my job pretty easy.”
Saturday’s six touchdown performance was the second in two weeks for Palmer. Last week against Point Pleasant Beach, Palmer threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more. Through ten games this season, Palmer has thrown for 1,779 yards, 24 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,180 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Mater Dei took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter when Palmer dropped back on fourth and 10 from midfield and found Eddie Lewis behind the Crimson secondary for a 50-yard scoring pass. The touchdown reception gave Lewis 10 for the season.
The Seraphs touchdown would be all that they would need, but Palmer was just getting started. After Mater Dei’s John Lubintus intercepted Morristown-Beard quarterback Colin Waters at Mater Dei’s 10 yard line, Thompson took the snap on the next play, rolled out, and then took off up field running 85 yards to the Crimson five yard line. Two plays later, Palmer dived over the goal line to increase Mater Dei’s lead to 12-0.
Mater Dei’s defense slammed the door on Morristown-Beard when they stopped the Crimson on first and goal from the five yard line. Maxwell and Jason Madile led a defense that kept the Crimson out of the end zone on three straight running plays from the one yard line.
With Morristown Beard blitzing to try and put pressure on Palmer, and dropping their safeties and cornerbacks back deep in coverage, Palmer and Mater Dei crossed the Crimson up, running delayed screen passes that gave Stamper running room up field, and the senior running back twice turned short passes into long touchdown passes in the second quarter.
A short screen pass from Palmer to Stamper turned into a 69-yard catch and run by Stamper to give mater Dei an 18-0 lead. With 37 seconds left in the second quarter, Mater Dei got the ball at their 50 yard line.
A 28-yard pass from Palmer to Jabriel Davidson moved the ball to the Morristown Beard 22-yard line. On the final play of the half, Palmer and Stamper teamed up again on the same play as Stamper caught the ball, and then got great downfield blocking down the sideline for the touchdown to give Mater Dei a 26-0 lead at halftime.
Mater Dei 12-14-8-14-48
MD-Eddie Lewis 50 pass from Christian Palmer (Run failed)
MD-Christian Palmer 3 run (Pass failed)
MD-Tyson Stamper 69 pass from Christian Palmer (Christian Palmer run)
MD-Tyson Stamper 22 pass from Christian Palmer (Pass failed)
MD-Tysaun White 78 pass from Christian Palmer (Christian Palmer run)
MD-Christian Palmer 42 run (Tysaun White run)
MD-Zach Bragg 14 run (Run failed)
Team Records: Mater Dei 8-2, Morristown-Beard 6-4