RUMSON – The biggest play for Shore Regional on Thanksgiving morning at Rumson-Fair Haven belonged to junior defensive lineman Paul Christopher, but it happened so fast, that even one of his teammates wasn’t quite sure what happened.
“That pick-six, I don’t even know what happened there, that was amazing,” senior running back Doug Goldsmith said.
Christopher’s interception of Bulldogs quarterback Mike O’Connor went 20 yards the other for a score and some breathing room early in the fourth quarter for the Blue Devils, who controlled the clock and the line of scrimmage in the second half on their way to a 20-14 win at Borden Stadium.
A new Thanksgiving rivalry between two schools that were already rivals in other sports, Shore now leads the series, 2-0, after a 13-0 win last year on its way to the NJSIAA Central Group I title.
“We were coming a lot in the first half, so at halftime, we said disguise it and don’t come,” Shore head coach Mark Costantino said when asked about the defensive scheme used on Christopher’s interception. “Paul disguised it, kicked to the flat and he’s a great athlete. That was tremendous and he totally sold it.”
Christopher’s touchdown put Shore up, 13-0, after junior quarterback Matt Pennell opened the scoring with a one-yard keeper on first-and-goal on Shore’s first second-half drive. Goldsmith’s 42-yard run three players earlier got the Blue Devils (11-0) down to the Rumson 13-yard line.
The offensive showing from both sides in the second half was in stark contrast to a scoreless first half that included eight combined punts and 127 yards of total offense between the two teams.
“We were 10-0 coming into this game, and 11-0 sounds better than 10-1,” Goldsmith said. “Rumson week, we treated this as a state-championship game. They’re a very good team.”
Rumson (9-2) got on the board thanks to O’Connor connecting with 6-foot-6 sophomore wide receiver Elijah McAllister for a 24-yard jump-ball touchdown to make it 13-7. Shore answered that touchdown with one of its own on a 47-yard scamper by senior Jack Britton to make it 20-7.
Key play: Christopher’s pick-six early in the fourth quarter gave Shore a 13-0 lead, not to mention some breathing room after the teams played a scoreless first half.
Offensive game ball: Goldsmith was Shore’s horse all game, grinding out yards on second effort and keeping the clock moving on his way to 105 yards on 21 carries.
Defensive game ball: O’Connor got loose for Rumson a couple of times, but he was not able to break a big, game-changing run as he sometimes does. Senior outside linebacker Alex Johnson stood out within Rumson’s defense.
Up next: Rumson and Shore still have a game left to play. The top-seeded Bulldogs will face No. 3 seed Red Bank in the NJSIAA Central Group III championship game on Dec. 5, 7 p.m. at Rutgers. The Blue Devils, the No. 1 seed in Central Group I, will face third-seeded Palmyra that day at 4 p.m. at Kean. Shore will go in search of its second straight CJ I title in its fourth straight trip to the final and fifth in the last six seasons. Rumson is through to a sectional final for the fifth time in six seasons and is looking for its fourth championship in that span.
Josh Newman: email@example.com
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