Fattaruso, Sclafani lead Brick to impressive win over TR South
BRICK – As if Brick needed any more motivation in an already storied rivalry with visiting Toms River South, the Green Dragons practically had a laundry list of items spiking their adrenaline in an impressive 47-21 victory in Class A South on Friday night.
The Green Dragons (2-1, 2-0), ranked No. 10 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, are already dedicating this season to former lineman Sean Martyn, wearing No. 75 stickers on their helmets in honor of a courageous player who lost his battle with cancer in May at 19 years old. They also were playing for senior wide receiver Freddy Flores, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL in a loss to Middletown South last week, with teammate Mike Muratore wearing Flores’ No. 6 jersey on Friday night in support of his classmate and friend.
Also, on Thursday, the players said a Toms River South student dressed as an Indian to resemble the team’s mascot ran from behind the bleachers and threw a spear on their practice field in the middle of a walk-through before darting off to show the old rivalry is alive and well. Finally, beloved kicker Anthony Starego, 19, who has autism, was notified only hours before the game on Friday that the NJSIAA had reversed an earlier ruling from March and granted him an unprecedented fifth year of eligibility to play this season.
“We played this game like it was our state championship game, like it was our last game of the season,” junior running back/linebacker Ray Fattaruso said. “It was a mandatory win. Knowing it was South, and they are such a big-time rival, just makes it even better. The disrespect like that (spear incident) just made us more confident to win.”
Brick erupted for 409 yards of total offense against the No. 8 Indians (2-1, 1-1), including 297 yards on the ground behind the zone read rushing attack of Fattaruso and junior quarterback Carmen Sclafani. Fattaruso had a sensational all-around game, rushing for 112 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, throwing a 30-yard touchdown pass on a halfback option, and registering three sacks, a forced fumble and two other tackles for a loss on defense. Sclafani ran for a game-high 145 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, and also threw for 82 yards and a touchdown.
The offensive explosion came one week after a frustrating 28-7 loss to No. 4 Middletown South in which the Green Dragons moved the ball between the 30-yard lines but did not finish drives.
“We knew we had to score when we got in the redzone this week after last week,” Sclafani said. “I give all the credit to the offensive line because they were awesome. It was like the parting of the Red Sea. There were just holes opening up everywhere.”
“All week long, we talked to the kids about executing in the red zone and moving the chains, because our third-down percentage against (Middletown) South wasn’t very good,” said Brick coach Rob Dahl. “We knew we couldn’t do that this week because they have such a potent offense.”
The Brick defense also recorded a second-half goose egg after the game looked like it might be an all-out shootout in the early going. Toms River South junior quarterback Tymere Berry ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns, but 84 of those yards came in the first half. The Indians entered the night averaging 34 points per game and feature a diverse array of playmakers, led by Berry.
“We had some missed tackles and some blown assignments where guys for some reason or another weren’t getting the (defensive) calls,” Dahl said. “At halftime, we told them that we’re doing the exact same gameplan and not making any adjustments because it was just missed tackles and a couple broken plays. Berry is an incredible player, but we just stuck with our gameplan, started making the tackles and executing the (defensive) calls.”
“We knew everything they were doing from the motions and from reading their tackles whether they were leaning forward or back to show that it would be a run or pass,” Fattaruso said. “We just executed everything we were supposed to.”
Toms River South opened the game by going 65 yards on only two plays, a 40-yard pass from Berry to Billy Kosh and then a 25-yard touchdown run by Berry for a 7-0 lead only 37 seconds into the game. Brick answered with a 9-play, 57-yard drive on its first possession that ended with an 8-yard touchdown run by Sclafani to tie it at seven with 6:38 left in the first quarter.
Senior Jared Egan returned the ensuing kickoff to Brick’s 13-yard line, and Berry scored from 10 yards out three plays later for a 14-7 advantage. Both defenses then came up with stops, including an Indians drive that was killed by a sack by Fattaruso for a 12-yard loss. A 6-play, 55-yard drive by Brick brought the Green Dragons within a point when Sclafani ran for a 22-yard touchdown before a missed extra point kept the Toms River South lead at 14-13 with 10:16 remaining in the second quarter.
On Toms River South’s subsequent possession, senior linebacker Drew Scott intercepted a pass by Berry to give Brick the ball at the Indians’ 38-yard line. Four plays later, Fattaruso scored on a 14-yard run. The conversion attempt was no good, giving Brick a 19-14 advantage with 7:38 left in the half.
The Indians answered with a nine-play, 65-yard drive in which they overcame a touchdown run being called back for a personal foul by scoring on an 11-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Otis Kearney for a 21-19 lead with 4:45 left in the second quarter.
The Green Dragons continued to attack, going 80 yards on 10 plays, culminating with a 4-yard touchdown run by Fattaruso and a two-point conversion run by Sclafani with 53.2 seconds left in the half for a 27-21 lead they would not relinquish. They then withstood a final flurry by Berry, who hit senior wideout Darrius Hart for a 40-yard gain and then nearly made an incredible play to elude the rush and hit Hart for a 37-yard touchdown on the final play of the half, but his pass was just out of the reach of Hart as time expired.
Brick then owned the second half, thanks to a crucial sequence of events by Fattaruso that set the tone after the break. After a sack by senior defensive end Brandon Kelly killed Brick’s opening drive, the Green Dragons got the ball right back when Fattaruso swiped at Berry from behind in the open field to jar the ball loose, and it was recovered by junior James Juliano at Toms River South’s 29-yard line.
After getting hit for a one-yard loss on first down, Fattaruso lofted a perfectly-executed 30-yard pass to Muratore on a halfback option for a touchdown that pushed the lead to 34-21 with 7:53 left in the third quarter.
“To be honest, we only ran that play maybe two times in practice,” Fattaruso said. “One time, I totally overthrew him, and the second time I threw an interception, so I give (offensive coordinator) coach (Chip) LaBarca a lot of credit for having confidence in me to actually run that play in a big game like this.”
Toms River South looked like it would have an immediate answer when Kearney returned the kickoff to Brick’s 30-yard line, but on a fourth-and-4 from the 11-yard line, sophomore linebacker Dan Finelli sacked Berry for a nine-yard loss and a big stop. Brick took that momentum and drove 80 yards on only five plays, grabbing a 41-21 lead after a 35-yard touchdown run by Fattaruso and Steve Ferlisi’s third extra point of the game.
Unable to get stops, Toms River South decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from it own 27-yard line on its next possession, but the Green Dragons stuffed Kearney for a loss to take over at the Indians’ 25. Sclafani put the game out of reach six plays later when he found junior wideout Joe Phillips for a 10-yard touchdown on a middle screen. Starego was brought out for an extra point attempt that went wide right, but Brick now had a commanding 47-21 lead with 11:12 left in the game.
The Indians had one last gasp to make it interesting when they drove to Brick’s 8-yard line on their next possession, but senior defensive lineman Logan Schmitz all but iced the win when he intercepted a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage with 8:30 left in the game.
The victory stamped Brick as a primary challenger to Lacey’s supremacy in Class A South and showed the capability of its offense to take over games.
“It’s a quality win,” Dahl said. “We know that they’re a good program, an up-and-coming program. Everybody has been talking about them as the team to beat, so we looked at this as one step toward the A South (title).”
“Considering the whole talk was about South’s potent offense, South’s awesome offense, whose offense was more potent tonight?” Sclafani said. “That’s what I’m saying.”
Brick 47, Toms River South 21
. B T
First downs 20 15
Rushes-yards 50-297 37-161
Passing 7-9-0 8-16-2
Passing yards 112 168
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-1
Penalties 4-37 5-35
TR South (2-1, 1-1) 14 7 0 0 – 21
Brick (2-1, 2-0) 7 20 14 6 – 47
T: Berry 25-yard run (Sosa kick).
B: Sclafani 8-yard run (Ferlisi kick).
T: Berry 10-yard run (Sosa kick).
B: Sclafani 22-yard run (kick failed).
B: Fattaruso 14-yard run (run failed).
T: Kearney 11-yard run (Sosa kick).
B: Fattaruso 4-yard run (Sclafani run).
B: Muratore 30-yard pass from Fattaruso (Ferlisi kick).
B: Fattaruso 35-yard run (Ferlisi kick).
B: Phillips 10-yard pass from Sclafani (kick failed).
Rushing – B: Muratore 6-36, Fattaruso 19-112, Sclafani 23-145, Phillips 1-3, Vega-Anfuso 1-1. T: Berry 17-102, Greene 8-11, Kearney 10-45, Hart 1-6, Kosh 1-(-3).
Passing – B: Sclafani 6-8-0 82, Fattaruso 1-1-0 30. T: Berry 8-16-2 168.
Receiving – B: Phillips 2-15, Muratore 3-53, Scott 2-44. T: Kosh 1-40, Greene 2-33, Hart 4-82, Schumann 1-13.
Interceptions – B: Scott 1-5, Schmitz 1-0.