Football – Wallner’s Running, Four INTs on Defense Help Keyport Topple No. 10 Asbury Park
KEYPORT — When Asbury Park knocked off three-time defending Class B Central champion Shore Regional last week, the Blue Bishops stamped themselves as title contenders. On Saturday afternoon it was Keyport’s turn.
The Red Raiders used a punishing rushing attack in the second half while forcing four turnovers to rally and upend No. 10 Asbury Park, 14-7, and jump to the front of a pack in a suddenly wide-open division race.
Sophomore running back Devin Wallner led the way with 146 yards on 23 carries, and fellow sophomore Greg Robinson scored the go-ahead touchdown with 5:58 left in regulation. Senior quarterback Chris Hogrefe tossed a game-tying touchdown to senior wideout Cody Young early in the third quarter, and the defense did the rest to give Keyport its first 2-0 start since 2009.
After gaining just 59 total yards in the first half, Keyport’s running game came to life. The 5-foot-3 Wallner rumbled for 116 yards in the second half while Young, junior Zach Walker and senior Rayquan Brown came through with interceptions.
Keyport was committed to its running game, so an adjustment to a heavier set up front set the tone.
“(Asbury Park) had a six-man front so we went to double tights and it was the difference in pounding the ball on them,” said Keyport head coach Jay Graham. “We really respect the Asbury Park coaching staff, so this is a huge win for us.”
After rushing for 116 yards last week in a win over Point Beach, Wallner was unstoppable when the Red Raiders need him most. His small stature, but powerful stature running behind a physical Keyport offensive line gave Asbury Park fits.
“We have (Zachary) Frick who’s 6-foot-4 and all these big guys and he’s 5-foot-3 with three trunk legs,” Graham said. “The difference with him is he has great vision and his second, third, fourth effort without turning the ball over is phenomenal.”
“They can’t see me behind my big line and I can get through the holes,” Wallner said.
On the other side of the ball, Keyport kept Asbury Park’s running game in check, surrendering just 86 yards. That forced the Blue Bishops to the air where the Red Raiders’ secondary capitalized.
“They couldn’t run on us so we just had to adjust with our (defensive backs) and get it done,” said junior linebacker Jay Hansen, who had an interception late in the first half. “We knew if they could run inside they cold go up top on us. We stopped the run and stopped their whole game plan.”
Asbury Park’s offense came out in sync, however, opening the game with a 15-play, 76-yard scoring drive to take a quick 7-0 lead. Junior quarterback Ja’King Agostini converted two third downs and then a fourth-and-six to put the ball inside the Keyport 20-yard line. On third-and-6 from the 13-yard line, Agostini fired a touchdown pass to junior wideout Donte Abrams.
Abrams would block a Keyport field goal attempt on the ensuing possession and Devin Nash-McGee later picked off Hogrefe to keep the momentum squarely on the Blue Bishops’ side. The tide started to turn for Keyport when Hansen intercepted Agostini’s pass over the middle and returned it 23 yards, halting an Asbury Park drive that was picking up steam in the closing minutes of the first half.
Keyport’s main adjustments were to its running game, but it was Hogrefe who began the comeback with a perfect touchdown pass to Young. On second down from the Keyport 47, Hogrefe dropped in a gorgeous pass to Young on a fade route, who then outran the Asbury Park secondary for a 53-yard score. Christian Smith’s extra point knotted the score, 7-7.
“It was a great call by the coaches, the line held their blocks and Cody ran a good route,” Hogrefe said. “We have a good connection. I’ve been throwing to him since flag football and Mighty Mites.”
Hogrefe did not complete a pass during the Week One win over Point Beach, but bounced back with some clutch throws on Saturday. He finished 5-for-9 for 79 yards.
“I’ll take my hat off to him,” Graham said. “He’s not throwing the ball 30 times a game like some kids so we put him in tough spots where he has to make a play. He’s a kid that works really hard and what we’re doing is building his confidence. Today was a day that will do that.”
After Walker’s interception gave Keyport the ball at its own 40-yard line, Wallner came to life with seven runs for 51 yards as the Red Raiders marched to the Asbury Park 7-yard line. But on second-and-two, the Bishops knocked the ball from Robinson’s grasp where Abrams recovered at the two-yard line and returned it out to the Keyport 40.
The teams traded punts on the next two possessions before Young’s interception set up the winning drive. Starting from their own 43-yard line, Keyport went 57 yards in nine plays to pull ahead for good. Wallner had a 13-yard run on third-and-six and Hogrefe found Frick for 10 yards on another third-and-six. That passing play put the ball at the Asbury 10-yard line, and three plays later Robinson churned his way into the end zone on a four-yard run up the middle.
Asbury Park made things interesting on its final drive, moving all the way to the Keyport 17-yard line. Agostini scrambled and hit Dyquan Young, who made an incredible catch in traffic for a 23-yard gain on third-and-13. With under a minute left, Keyport junior defensive lineman Antonio Collila came up with a clutch sack of Agostini for a nine-yard loss. Two plays later on fourth-and-15, Brown intercepted Agostini in the end zone and returned it out to the 33-yard line to seal the victory.
“We knew we had to step up and get some turnovers because they’re a very explosive team,” Hansen said.
Keyport’s win sets up a Week Three game against Mater Dei Prep, which beat Dunellen 42-6 on Friday night and has outscored its opponents 77-6 over its first two games. The winner will gain sole possession of first place in B Central.
Keyport 14, No. 10 Asbury Park 7
Asbury Park (1-1, 1-1) 7 0 0 0 — 7
Keyport (2-0, 2-0) 0 0 7 7 — 14
AP - Ja’King Agostini 13-yard pass to Donte Abrams (Dyquan Young kick)
K - Chris Hogrefe 53-yard pass to Cody Young (Christian Smith kick)
K - Greg Robinson 4-yard run (Christian Smith kick)
Rushing - AP: Paul Reed 17-44, Ja’King Agostini 6-23, Donte Abrams 3-12, Tyrone Bailey 1-7, Namir Argilagos 1-0; K: Devin Wallner 23-146, Greg Robinson 4-18, Shykim Treadwell 7-8, Chris Hogrefe 2-(-10).
Passing - AP: Ja’King Agostini 9-19-4 96; K: Chris Hogrefe 5-9-1 79.
Receiving - AP: Dyquan Young 4-45, Javon Higgs 3-25, Donte Abrams 1-13, Paul Reed 1-13; K: Cody Young 1-53, Zachary Frick 1-10, Greg Robinson 1-6, Joe Kay-Flagg 1-6, Jay Hansen 1-4.
Interceptions - AP: Devin Nash-McGee 1-0; K: Rayquan Brown 1-28, Jay Hansen 1-23, Cody Young 1-0, Zach Walker 1-0.
Football editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.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.