HOLMDEL – It was an anticipated matchup of divisional foes when St. John Vianney played host to Rumson-Fair Haven – ranked fourth and fifth in the APP Top 10 Poll at the time, respectively – on Friday night … and this clash of Shore Conference titans proved to be decided in the third quarter.
After a two-yard touchdown rumble by Calvin Beaty and an extra point from Joe Rice put the Lancers ahead by seven, Rumson-Fair Haven put together a drive that appeared to be destined for a scoring strike of its own.
However, with the Buldogs on St. John Vianney’s own two-yard line and about to break through the teeth of the Lancers defense, junior lineman Micah Clark gritted his own and knifed into the Rumson backfield, cutting down the ball carrier Mike Vecchiarelli on the second-and-goal play.
Clark’s tackle defense of the line of scrimmage inspired a defense stop by the Lancers and led to an eventual 13-6 victory.
“We knew this was a big game,” said Clark, who recorded a sack earlier in the Lancers drive and earned the APP Defensive Game Ball of Week 4 as a result of his efforts. “We saw on Twitter that there was talk of them saying they were going to beat us and how they were the better team…While that was going on we were in practice, focusing on our game and on controlling the controllables.”
Clark and the Lancers defense certainly controlled the two-headed Rumson rushing attack of quarterback Michael O’Connor and tailback Mike Vacchiarelli, limiting the talented duo to one touchdown and 136 yards on 41 carries (3.32 yard per carry), while allowing just seven yards through the air.
“It was tough for us at first because we’re a team that likes to pass, and the weather didn’t really allow us to establish ourselves,” Clark said of the inclement weather surrounding this matchup. “Then we just went toe to toe with them running the ball, and it was on the defenses to see who could make a stop first…and we handled them pretty well.”
“We felt pressure and responsibility, like we had to stop them,” added Clark, who is an uncommitted, four-star recruit with interest from Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, and many more. “Especially on that drive in the third when they were five yards off the goal line. We had to stop them, because we had seen how hard it was to move the ball. … We had to do every little thing right to keep out of the end zone, and we did it.”
St. John Vianney is a confident football team after this Week 4 win, but Clark knows the Lancers can’t afford to dwell on past success.
“All of us have bought into this program,” Clark said. “We’re happy to come away with the win, but when it’s time to work it’s time to work. And we have more work to do.”
The Lancers will continue its undefeated season on Friday when St. John Vianney travels to Manchester for a 7 p.m. meeting.