TOMS RIVER – From the playing surface to the team’s success, the atmosphere surrounding the Donovan Catholic football team continues to be new and exciting.

Donovan Catholic opened its gleaming new turf field in style on Friday night with a 24-0 Shore Conference National Division victory over Asbury Park to start 3-0 for the first time in over 15 years.  Junior running back Nasir Calhoun had a pair of touchdown runs, Dominick Nocero had a touchdown reception and Keaon Torres knocked through a field goal to lead the Griffins’ offense.

Nocero had 16 tackles with one hit for a loss, Nick Kenmure had 11 tackles with three coming for a loss and Andre Laney and Evyn Menta had interceptions on defense as Donovan used a late goal-line stand to preserve its first shutout of the season.

“It was definitely something on our to-do list, we had to go out and win the first game on the new field,” said junior quarterback Ryan Clark. “We just really wanted to show out in front of everybody and show what DC can do.”

“Father Scott and the administration at Donovan have done a great job putting it together and we’re real appreciative of that,” said Donovan Catholic head coach Dan Curcione. “The kids were fired up and I was a little fired up about it, but they did a good job keeping their focus and coming away with the win.”

Donovan Catholic’s defensive effort was characterized by its ability to tighten its grip in key moments. Asbury Park started the game by driving from its own 8-yard line to the Donovan Catholic 39, chewing up over nine minutes of clock across 15 plays. But on fourth and five, the Griffins’ stopped Asbury quarterback Basean Fraser for a 2-yard gain to force a turnover on downs.

Jahdir Loftland broke a 20-yard run on the Griffins’ first offensive play, and on the following play Nocero took a pass in the flat, juked a defender along the sideline and sprinted away for a 44-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Donovan Catholic lead.

“That was humongous,” Curcione said. “We just wanted to get off the field; it felt like we were out there for 20 minutes. They gave us their best shot but we did a good job killing the momentum.”

“As soon as (the defense) got that stop we knew we had to go out and put one in the end zone for them,” Clark said.

The Griffins extended their lead to 10-0 late in the first half when Torres capped a 12-play, 67-yard drive with a 30-yard field goal. Clark had a 20-yard run to move the ball into Asbury territory and freshman tight end Levi Wilkins had a 23-yard catch to convert a third and 17.

Donovan’s lead threw to 17-0 midway through the third quarter. A sack on third down by junior Jared Helstowski made it fourth and 16 for Asbury Park, and the Blue Bishops went for a fake punt but were stopped. Taking over at the Bishops’ 41-yard line, junior wide receiver Andre Laney made a great 40-yard catch against two Asbury defenders to set up Calhoun’s 1-yard touchdown run.

Asbury Park moved to Donovan’s 24-yard line on its next possession, but a personal foul penalty moved the Bishops back 15 yards. On fourth and 17, Menta jumped to deflect a pass away and give the Griffins the ball back.

It took just four plays for Donovan to get back into the end zone as Clark hit James Bivens for a 28-yard gain and Calhoun broke free for a 39-yard touchdown run to put the Griffins up, 24-0, with 10:43 left in the game.

The exclamation point came with the Griffins’ defense on the field midway through the fourth quarter. A turnover gave Asbury Park the ball at the Donovan 6-yard line, but instead of the Bishops spoiling the shutout, the Griffins pushed them backward. Consecutive tackles for loss by Laney and Kenmure made it third and 15 and on fourth down Laney picked off Fraser in the end zone.

On the next possession, Menta came away with an interception at the 10-yard line to officially clinch the shutout.

“I think it was a big confidence builder (to get the shutout),” Curcione said. “We didn’t play great defense at times last year but I think the kids kept believing in what we’re doing. (Asbury) had a heck of a game plan coming out here doing some things they haven’t done. They spread the ball out a little bit more and tried to attack us in the secondary. I thought our guys in the back end answered the call and did a pretty darn good job.”

Friday’s victory sets up a showdown with Holmdel next week. Both the Griffins and Hornets are undefeated in the National Division so the winner of that game will take a significant step toward securing the division title.

“They’re a really good football team and that’s going to be one heck of a challenge,” Curcione said. “We’ll enjoy this one and get back to work soon.”

“Now that we’re done with Asbury it’s 100 percent focus on Holmdel,” Clark said. “We’re going to do everything we have to in order to put a win up next Friday.”

 

Box Score

Donovan Catholic 24, Asbury Park 0 

  Asbury Park Donovan Catholic
First downs 13 8
Rushes-yards 38-114 17-83
Passing 17-25-2 10-13-0
Passing yards 124 166
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 4-35 4-30

  

Asbury Park (1-2, 1-2)           0 0 0 0 –  0

Donovan Catholic (3-0, 3-0) 7 3 7 7 –24

 

Scoring summary

Dominick Nocero 44-yard pass from Ryan Clark (Keaon Torres kick)

Keon Torres 32-yard field goal

Nasir Calhoun 1-yard run (Keaon Torres kick)

Nasir Calhoun 39-yard run (Keaon Torres kick)

 

Individual statistics

RUSHING – AP: Junior Houghton 13-43, Basean Fraser 12-31, Quadir Lawson 8-20, Makai Jones 2-12, Kaliq Walker 2-7, Najier Massey 1-1; DC: Nasir Calhoun 3-43, Jahdir Loftland 2-23, Ryan Clark 10-13, James Bivens 1-2, Damian Johnson 1-2.

PASSING – AP: Basean Fraser 17-25-2 124; DC: Ryan Clark 10-13-0 166.

RECEIVING – AP: Alexander Peavy 3-55, Makai Jones 9-39, Quadir Lawson 4-15, Kharod Young 1-11; DC: Andre Laney 3-57, Dominick Nocero 1-44, James Bivens 2-32, Levi Wilkins 1-23, Nasir Calhoun 1-6, Quamire Green 1-5, Jahdir Loftland 1-0.

INTERCEPTION: Andre Laney 1-0, Evyn Menta 1-0.

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights. 

 

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