WEST LONG BRANCH – Shore Regional linebacker Doug Goldsmith starred on Thanksgiving, using a rivalry matchup with Rumson-Fair Haven as the setting for what would be a career day.
Aside from carrying 21 times for 105 yards on the offensive side of the ball, Goldsmith proved to a monster in the middle of a Blue Devils defense that held a talented Bulldogs attack in check and led Shore to a 21-14 victory.
“It’s always a huge game in terms of bragging rights,” Goldsmith said of the annual holiday clash. “It was a 0-0 game at half, and we knew we had to give it our all if we wanted to come out with the win, and thank God we did. Our offense and defense prevailed in the second half. It took everything that we had. It was a great team moment.”
Amid the winning effort, Goldsmith recorded 1.5 sacks, forced and recovered a fumble on the same play, covered up an onsides kick late in the game and racked up a robust 24 tackles to pace his Blue Devils club.
“Coming into the game I knew they had a big-time offense that could really run the ball and pass it,” said Goldsmith, who is committed to play lacrosse for the University at Albany. “I had a good feeling about our defense going in, and I knew I had to have a big game if we were going to be successful.”
“Luckily I had a pretty solid game with upward of 20 tackles and over 100 yards rushing. But our line, on both sides of the ball, they did a great job up front. Without them doing their job, I couldn’t have done what I did.”
Although Goldsmith’s performance is most definitely a highlight of his career, the senior hopes it isn’t the brightest point of this 2015 season.
Shore sits only days away from carrying its 19-game winning streak into the Central Group I finals, the program’s fourth consecutive appearance in the title game and its fifth trip in the past six years.
“Beating Rumson meant nothing if we can’t get the job done in the finals,” Goldsmith said. “But if we win, we’ll cement our place in this program’s history.”
Should the top-seeded Blue Devils take down third-seeded Palmyra on Saturday, this current Shore collective will be the first in school history to have completed an undefeated season with 12 straight wins.
It’s a goal Goldsmith and the Blue Devils have had their eye on from the start of the year, and an achievement this program’s decorated past has motivated them to chase.
“The history of this program is always in the back of our minds,” Goldsmith said. “Even dating back to the 1997 state championship team. Some of our coaches played on that team. They share their stories with us. And we want to be part of that. We want to have our place in this team’s history.”
Goldsmith and the Blue Devils will have its shot at Palymra and the Panthers’ touted passing offense on Dec. 5, when the Blue Devils travel to Kean University and attempt to capture their second consecutive sectional state title.
CENTRAL GROUP I CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
PALMYRA (10-1) vs. SHORE (11-0)
Where: Kean University
When: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Directions to the game: Garden State Parkway North to Exit 140 onto Route 22 East. Turn right onto Route 82 East. At sixth traffic light, make a right onto Green Lane. Make a left onto campus at first traffic light. Alumni Stadium, is on your right.
Game-by-game: Defeated Maple Shade 24-21; Holy Cross 27-23; lost to Woodrow Wilson 27-18; defeated Florence 17-12; Wildwood 53-19; Riverside 61-33; Gloucester Catholic 47-20; New Egypt 43-20; Point Beach 34-16; Keyport 35-34; Burlington City 49-6.
Key players: Max Smiyth (Jr., QB, 157-250, 30 TDs, 10 INT, 2,784 yards, 22 rushes for 144 yards, 3 TDs); Kelvin Harmon (Sr., WR. SS., 63 receptions for 1,076 yards, 14 TDs, 38 tackles, 1 INT); Taj Harris (So., WR/OLB., 44 receptions for 985 yards, 11 TDs, 33 tackles, 2 INTS); Elijah Karnjay (So., RB, 120-1,035, 14 TDs); David Lynch (Jr., OLB., 63 tackles, seven tackles for a loss).
Previous championships: 1978
Game-by-game: Defeated Keyport 31-7; Spotswood 7-3; Keansburg 46-6; Dunellen 44-7; Mater Dei Prep 45-6; South River 52-7; Point Beach 42-7; Asbury Park 20-7; Burlington City 36-0; Florence 42-0; Rumson-Fair Haven 20-14.
Key players: Doug Goldsmith (Sr., RB/LB, 160-917, 7 TDs, 132 tackles, 4 sacks, Jack Britton (Sr., RB/DB., 78-927, 13 TDs, 5 INTs); Matt Pennell (Jr., QB/DB., 25-42-461, 7 TDs, 0 INTs, 29 rushes for 174 yards, 5 TDs, 3 INTs); Erik Graham (Sr., OL.DL, 5 sacks); Jeremy Redaelli (Sr., OL/DL, 3 sacks); George Notte (Sr., P/PK., 5-for 10 FG, 44-for-49 PATs, 14 TB.
Previous championships: 1981, 1982, 1988, 1997, 2010, 2014..