CARTERET A miserable evening could not prevent the Carteret and Colonia High School football teams from staging an epic, heart-stopping classic befitting a couple of programs that played for sectional titles last December.
Fittingly, the outcome remained in doubt until Carteret’s Jalen Harris broke up a Colonia pass to the end zone with 14 seconds remaining to kill a mammoth 20-play drive and lift the Ramblers to a 14-6 decision Friday night.
“That win saved our season,” Matt Yascko told his team as Carteret recorded its first victory following three one-sided losses, dealing Colonia its first loss in four outings in the process.
“0-4 would have been really hard to come back from,” Yascko added. “1-3 is still not good, but at least we saved it and rallied the troops. We got a win when we needed it in the worst way.”
Colonia has gotten into the dangerous habit of starting slowly this season, but the Patriots marched 62 yards in 11 plays after receiving the opening kickoff. Bashir Lauderdale lugged the ball on eight plays of that drive, including a 3-yard run that gave Colonia a 6-0 edge less than five minutes into the contest.
Lauderdale would finish with a game-high 101 yards on 32 carries, but unlike its previous outings, the Patriots would not find the end zone again.
Both teams kept the turnovers to a minimum in the slop, but the first one proved costly when Keanu Chapman recovered a Colonia fumble at the Patriots’ 34 with nine minutes remaining in the first half. Quarterback Angelo Golino dove across the goal line from three yards out with 4:51 left, leaving the game deadlocked at 6-6 at the break after both teams failed to convert their two-point conversion runs.
Carteret came out on fire after intermission as Da’Avian Ellington took off for a 30-yard scamper down the right sideline on the first play of the second half.
“We came out in the second half with a little bit more energy, we hit the big run,” said Yascko, whose team ran for 115 of its 180 yards after halftime. “We had to widen our offensive line out, they were a little too tight in there and made it easy for the defense.”
Sam Kamara burst up the middle for the decisive 6-yard touchdown run and Ellington added the two-point conversion to put Carteret on top to stay.
But it wasn’t easy.
Carteret maintained a clean sheet until its final two possessions, fumbling the ball away on both. The first wasn’t costly but the second gave Colonia the ball at its 31 with 7:42 remaining.
The Patriots steadily marched up the muddy field over the next 20 plays, recording five first downs and converting three fourth downs in the process.
“It was basically holding on for dear life,” Yascko said. “It was just going to be a matter of somebody making a play, either us or them.”
The drive appeared to end on a fourth-and-10 from the 11, but a pass interference call gave Colonia another shot from the 6. Harris and his teammates came up with one final stop, and just like that, the GMC White Division race suddenly got a little tighter.
COLONIA (3-1) 6-0-0-0 — 6
CARTERET (1-3) 0-6-8-0 — 14
CO–Lauderdale 3 run (run failed)
CA–Golino 3 run (run failed)
CA–Kamara 6 run (Ellington run)
Rushing —Co: Lauderdale 32-101, C., Barneys 14-38, B. Barneys 10-20; Ca: Kamara 14-81, Ellington 17-72, Chandler 5-22, Golino 6-5.
Passing — Co:C. Barneys 2-6-1-16; Ca: Golino 0-3-0-0.
Receiving —Co: B. Barneys 2-16.