MATAWAN What was ultimately a dominant showing by Raritan in a 40-3 road victory over Matawan on Friday was merely a 10-point game at the half.
However, a fast start by the Rockets (2-0) at the start of the third quarter left no doubt, as Nick Pasquin returned the opening kick 70-yards down to the Huskies 30, before the senior wide out hauled in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Marc Carnivale that led to a 20-3 Rockets advantage.
Raritan extended its lead to 24 points on its next possession, when Carnivale tossed his third touchdown of the night to tight end Mason Sheehan from 11 yards out.
But it was two-way starter Derek Ernst who put the game out of reach in the third quarter, as the senior hopped on a Matawan fumble at the Rockets own two-yard line and returned it up the sideline for a 98-yard touchdown, before breaking through the opposing defense on Raritan’s third possession of the second half for a 50-yard scoring scamper and a 40-3 lead.
“This win is huge for us. We wanted to prove ourselves to the Shore Conference that we work our tails off every day, and we’re going to be a competitive team. You have to look out for us,” Ernst said.
Ernst’s big night got started early in the second quarter, when he took a screen pass out of the backfield and worked off his blocking linemen to maneuver through the Huskies defense for a 47-yard touchdown that resulted in a 13-0 Rockets lead.
“I couldn’t have played like I did tonight without my teammates,” Ernst added. “They motivate me the most and they’re what drives me. They push me, they drive me. They make me play at my best.”
Raritan’s defense opened the scoring in the first quarter, as junior linebacker Ryan Dickens scooped up a fumble at Matawan’s 46-yard line and returned it for the touchdown and a 6-0 lead after a blocked extra point.
Matawan’s only points of the game came on a 37-yard field goal by Adam Elliott with 2:38 remaining in the first half.
“Hopefully this win will give us some momentum heading into our first home game of the season next week,” said Raritan coach Anthony Petruzzi of his team’s Week 4 meeting with Freehold Boro. “We’re having an alumni night, so we’re hoping to show up and play some good football again.”
Play of the game: After emerging from halftime staked to a mere 10-point lead, Nick Pasquin provided some instant offense, returning the opening kick 70 yards down to the Matawan 30. Two plays later the senior got a step on the opposing corner back and Carnivale delivered a perfect lead pass to the end zone for a 27-yard scoring strike and a 20-3 advantage.
Offensive game ball: Derek Ernst earns the honor as the senior carried 13 times for 106 yards and a touchdown, while taking his only catch of the night in for a 47-yard score.
Defensive game ball: Junior middle linebacker Ryan Dickens receives the game ball after helping to hold the Matawan offense to 168 total yards (96 rushing and 72 passing) and leading a Raritan defense that forced four turnovers (three fumbles and an interception). Dickens had one of those fumble recoveries and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Up next: Following the victory Raritan hosts Freehold Boro on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m., while Matawan hosts Monmouth that night at 7 p.m.
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