Football – Rumson Hammers Vianney in Season-Opening Statement
RUMSON - St. John Vianney has played in plenty of games that have moved to a running clock stage early in the second half, but on Friday night at Borden Stadium, the Lancers were on the other side of the mercy rule against a team desperate to finally write a new chapter in the rivalry.
Rumson-Fair Haven - the No. 6 team in the Shore Sports Network Preseason Top 10 - scored on all six of its first-half possessions and added a safety on defense for good measure to spark a 43-6 drubbing of the the No. 2 preseason top 10.
Friday's result marked the second loss of the season for a Vianney team that entered the year on a 38-game winning streak against Shore Conference competition, as well as the first win for Rumson over the Lancers since 2013 - the year before the streak began.
"This was a big game for us, definitely," Rumson head coach Jerry Schulte said.
Senior running back Alex Maldjian touched the ball just 12 times Friday night and still managed to score on five of them. He carried the ball 11 times for 94 yards and four touchdowns and also opened the scoring with a 33-yard touchdown reception from junior quarterback Collin Coles on a 3rd-and-4 play.
"With all the work we did in the offseason, what we did tonight wasn't a surprise, honestly," Maldjian said. "I look back at it now and it looks great, but during the game I just kept focused."
Senior defensive lineman Henry Sullivan came up with the game-breaking defensive play when he tackled Vianney junior running back Kavon Chambers in the endzone for a safety that put Rumson ahead, 9-0, with 3:14 to go in the first quarter.
"Right then, the message was to step on their throats and keep going," Sullivan said. "I got off the block and made the play and we got all excited there. It pumped my teammates up."
After the safety, the Bulldogs stepped on the gas, scoring 34 points in a little more than a quarter to blow the game open. Maldjian scored the next four Rumson touchdowns on runs of 10, 10, 2 and 37 yards, with his 37-yard scamper up the right sideline on 3rd-and-7 marking his longest run of the game.
"I wouldn't have been able to do it without the offensive line," Murdjian said. "They played really well today. Holes were wide open and I could just run. I didn't have to think too much."
Coles made an ideal first impression in his starting debut at the varsity level, completing 12-of-15 passes for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His other touchdown pass was a 15-yard strike to senior Ian O'Connor with 1:02 left in the half to make it 43-0.
"He has come a long way," Schulte said of Coles. "This is his first year starting for us so he has come a long way. The way he progressed over the summer, we thought he could do just what he did tonight."
O'Connor caught four passes for 46 yards and senior Jackson McCarthy set the tone early with a 41-yard catch on a go-route on Rumson's second offensive play of the game.
"Jackson making that insane catch near the sideline really got us fired up and got the momentum going," Maldjian said. "Jackson made the catch, but Collin had to put it there and he did it all game."
In total, Rumson rolled up 232 yards on the ground, with senior Peter Crowley pitching in 52 on only three carries - including a 38-yard run that set up Maldjian's second touchdown in the first quarter - senior Tommy Solano gaining 39 yards on seven carries and sophomore John Volker adding 37 on nine carries.
As efficient as Rumson's offense was during the first half, its defense was even better against a St. John Vianney team that boasts a dominant right side of the offensive line and a 1,400-plus year rusher from a year ago in Chambers. Vianney gained a total of only 54 yards in the game, with Chambers running for 42 on 19 carries.
"We knew we had to step up," Sullivan said. "We were coming in with a new defense - the 4-2-5. It kind of spread things out and let us work up the middle a little bit more and it worked out."
The Lancers scored on their first drive on the second half after they recovered the opening kickoff at the Rumson 17 yard-line. Junior Naron Alston pushed into the endzone from a yard out to cap the drive.
"It's the type of kids we have and the type of defense we run," Schulte said of his team's success. "We're aggressive, we attack, we don't sit around and wait to see what you're going to do, we make something happen for us."
On top of recovering from a loss to Red Bank Catholic a week earlier to snap the 38-game winning streak, St. John Vianney had to perform without former offensive coordinator Charlie Rogers, who was dismissed by the school on Thursday after a voicemail he left for a parent of a youth football player he used to coach was made public.
Rumson, meanwhile, was champing at the bit to start this season against its longtime Class A Central rival, especially after the bitter ending to its 2017. The Bulldogs reached the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III final but came up short of a fifth straight sectional title in a 20-15 loss to Somerville.
In the championship loss, the Bulldogs defense conceded the winning touchdown with 53 seconds left, so the defensive dominance that marked Friday's win was an especially welcome sight.
"After (losing at) Rutgers, this has been our goal all offseason," Sullivan said. "We just wanted to play a good game and that's what we did."
Rumson-Fair Haven 43, St. John Vianney 6
|SJ Vianney (0-2, 0-1)||0||0||6||0||6|
|Rumson-FH (1-0, 1-0)||16||27||0||0||43|
RFH - Alex Murdjian 33-yard pass from Collin Coles (Collin Coles kick)
RFH - Safety: Kavon Chambers tackled by Henry Sullivan for one-yard loss
RFH - Alex Murdjian 10-yard run (Collin Coles kick)
RFH - Alex Murdjian 10-yard run (Collin Coles kick)
RFH - Alex Murdjian 37-yard run (pass failed)
RFH - Alex Murdjian 2-yard run (Collin Coles kick)
RFH - Ian O'Connor 15-yard pass from Collin Coles (Collin Coles kick)
SJV - Naron Alston 1-yard run (kick failed)
Rushing - SJV: Kavon Chambers 19-42, Josh East 2-10, Naron Alston 2-0, Mike Noble 1-1, George Trimarche 1-(-5); RFH: Alex Murdjian 11-94, Peter Crowley 3-52; Tommy Solano 7-39, John Volker 9-37, Dan Afflito 4-10
Passing - SJV: Josh East 5-10-0-6; RFH: Collin Coles 12-15-0-152
Receiving - SJV: Zarrin Stephens 1-2, Warren Griffith 1-0, Kavon Chambers 1-(-1), Jayden Bellamy 1-2, George Trimarche 1-3; RFH: Ian O'Connor 4-46, Jackson McCarthy 1-41, Alex Murdjian 1-33, Andrew Lawless 1-15, Tommy Solano 1-14, Doug Dupree 1-0, James Hempstead 1-6, John Volker 1-(-2), Patrick Jamin 1-(-1)