TINTON FALLS – St. John Vianney learned Saturday that it can persevere when things do not go well for a period of time.
An inspired Monmouth Regional defense that was well-prepared disrupted the rhythm of the St. John Vianney offense in the first half. The Falcons intercepted St. John Vianney senior quarterback Anthony Brown on the first series and stopped a fourth down play on the Lancers’ second series.
St. John Vianney had a touchdown called back on its third series and led by only seven points at halftime.
The Lancers then found their rhythm in the second half and rolled to a 48-0 win that enabled them to clinch at least a tie for the Shore Conference Class A Central championship.
St. John Vianney (8-0, 5-0) can clinch the divisional title outright for the second straight season with a win over Manasquan (3-4, 2-3) Friday night.
“We were walking off at halftime and a couple of guys were excited, a couple of coaches were fired up,” St. John Vianney coach Derek Sininsky said. “One of my coaches says to me, ‘Hey, coach, You’ve got to be the calm one’. I go, ‘I’m glad this happened to us. We need to have a dress rehearsal so it doesn’t happen in the states (the NJSIAA Non-Publifc Group III playoffs).. We need to have this happen (Saturday).’
“We went into the locker room, went over our offense, defense. Nothing was really said except ‘Men, we expect you to go out there and play great. Let’s get back out there’. It wasn’t like there was a need for a rah-rah type of thing.”
St. John Vianney went out and scored on all five of its second half possessions.
Brown got the ball rolling with a 16-yard-run on the Lancers’ first play off the half after a 50-yard kickoff return by senior Khalil Haskins and a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Monmouth enabled the Lancers to start at the Falcons’ 30.
Three plays later, Brown’s 4-yard TD run made it 14-0 St. John Vianney.
On the Lancers’ next possession, Brown completed a slant to Jeff Sheard for 48 yards and on the next play connected with Michael Stapert on a slant for a 30-yard TD.
It took the Lancers three plays to score on their next possession as Brown had a 30-yard completion to Sheard on another slant, and two plays later, hooked up with a wide-open Stapert down the middle for a 40-yard TD on a slant.
A 37-yard run by Chris Chukwuneke set up Brown’s 4-yard TD pass to Marcque Ellington that made it 35-0 with 10:44 remaining.
A Calvin Beaty 2-yard TD run seven plays after an interception by Haskins and Matthew Bordfield falling on a fumble in the end zone on the final play of the game with the clock running closed the game out.
The Lancers held Monmouth to just 24 yards of total offense, including minus 10 yards rushing. Monmouth had five first downs, two by penalty.
St. John Vianney had its halftime lead on a 6-yard Brown (16-for-22 for 252 yards and four TD passes) to Haskins.
“They (his players) know they’re a very, very good football team,” Sininsky said. “It’s just a matter of getting our i’s dotted and t’s crossed.”
Key play: Khalil Haskins’ 50-yard return of the second half kickoff jump-started St. John Vianney after it led 7-0 at halftime.
Offensive game ball: Senior quarterback Anthony Brown went 16-for-22 for 252 yards with four touchdown passes.
Defensive game ball: St. John Vianney junior defensive linemen Jamal Beaty and Micah Clark were both disruptive.
Up next: St. John Vianney hosts Manasquan Friday night in a game in which it can clinch the outright Shore Conference Class A Central championship. Monmouth is at Raritan.
Steven Falk: 732-643-4267; email@example.com.