RANDOLPH TWP. – The Chatham Cougars persevered over an injured teammate, and in the process got their 2015 season off to a stunning start.
After losing quarterback Alex Sands to an injury in the third quarter, Chatham rallied for three second half touchdowns behind the play of back up quarterback Tim Adams to upset Randolph 25-22 in the opening game for both schools.
The Cougars’ victory spoiled the debut of Randolph coach Tarig Holman as the 1995 graduate was coaching his first game for Randolph after two years at Trenton Central.
Chatham trailed Randolph 22-19 with 3:29 left in the fourth quarter. Taking over on its 44-yard line after forcing Randolph to punt, Adams started the drive with a seven yard run. A Randolph penalty moved the ball to the Rams 36. The drive appeared to stall, but two plays later Adams found Ryan Barnett on a 26-yard pass to put the ball on the Randolph 10 yard line. A sweep by Adams gained seven yards to move the ball to the three yard line with eight seconds left. On the final play of the game, Adams rolled out, and found Robbie Moskowitz who caught the ball just as the Randolph secondary closed in on him. Moskowitz immediately found himself mobbed by his teammates who charged onto the field.
“Timmy came up big,” Moskowitz said. “I found a hole, Timmy scrambled, and found me. I got wrecked, but it is so worth it. When Alex down, that was a bummer. Timmy’s a young kid, but he knows the offense and he stepped up.”
Moskowitz believes that the victory could get Chatham started on a role in 2015.
“Hopefully this sets the tone for the rest of the year,” Moskowitz said.
“Timmy did an incredible job the second half, running the offense the way he did,” Chatham coach Jason Isza said. “The young man’s got character and poise to step up in there and make the play like that is unbelievable. This games means everything. It has to be one of the biggest wins in Chatham football.”
Adams finished the game rushing for 65 yards on 11 carries, one touchdown run and two touchdown passes.
Nick Hafner, Anthony Salemi and Carlo Zarro each ran for touchdowns to lead Randolph as the Rams.
Chatham began the game in a no-huddle offense, and looked poised to take a lead on their first possession, driving from their 42 yard line to the Randolph 30. The Rams defense rose to the occasion, and on fourth down, a pass from Chatham quarterback Alex Sands intended for Brian Brady was broken up by Zarro in the end zone.
Zarro then got Randolph rolling on offense, beginning with a 29-yard run in which he carried two defenders for 20 yards to the Chatham 41-yard line. Backfield partner Nick Hafner followed with a 10-yard run to move the ball to the 31, Three plays later, Zarro followed the lead block of Josh Pledger on a 22-yard dash to the 1-yard line. Hafner then capped the drive with a one-yard run to give Randolph a 7-0 lead.
A fumble recovery by Zarro at the Chatham 39 gave the ball back to Randolph and the Rams capitalized six plays later when Anthony Salemi took a handoff, and running behind the lead block of guard Scott Waters, ran untouched for 25 yards to increase Randolph’s lead to 14-0.
Chatham answered back late in the second quarter on a 12 pass from Alex Sands to Robbie Moskowitz. Moskowitz found room on a slant pattern across the middle and Sands rifled a pass that Moskowitz caught in stride and took across the goal line.
With Randolph looking poised to retake a two-touchdown lead, Chatham’s defense rose to the occasion forcing a fumble by Zarro on the Cougars four yard line that Pat Cosgrove recovered to keep Chatham within a touchdown of Randolph going into halftime.
The Cougars were forced to play most of the second half without Sands who was injured early in the third quarter when he was sacked by Angello Pico and Kyle Luthy. Sands sustained an injury to his right leg, on the sack and was replaced on the Cougars next possession by Tim Adams.
Zarro who rushed for seven touchdowns last year, gave every indication that he will surpass that in 2015 when the junior took a handoff and ran 17 yards untouched for the touchdown and then scored again on the two-point conversion to give Randolph a 22-6 lead.
With Sands out of the game, the Cougars abandoned their passing game in favor of a read-option. With Adams running the ball from the shotgun, Adams carried the ball four times for 31 yards to give Chatham first and goal at the Randolph seven yard line. Three plays later, the Cougars cut Randolph’s lead to 22-12 on a five yard pass from Adams to Ryan Barnett. The Rams defense then stiffened on the two point conversion as Zarro and Nick Zach stopped Adams on a sweep.
A four yard run by Adams late in the third quarter cut Randolph’s lead to 22-19. It appeared that Chatham took a lead on their next possession on a 34 yard run by Adams, but the touchdown was called back due to a holding call, and Chatham elected to punt on fourth down giving the ball back to Randolph.
Randolph lineman Alan Silva injured left field on a stretcher late in the third quarter with a leg injury. He did not return to the game.